Friday, November 4, 2011

Here We Go

Now at last NBC is reporting that climate change is for real.  Maybe that should be rephrased to global warming is for real, because one of the researchers has determined that during the past year there were three times as many record warm days as record cold days ... up from the recent norm of 2 to 1.  So everything is in the ballpark that  I had expected.  Part of that is the reality that I had anticipated that people would really begin to "get" it when the situation had already gotten to be very serious.  If cattle are dying in Texas and there are major wildfires in TX, October snowstorm in New England, that would seem to me to be very serious.

Here is the link to the NBC program:

I hear the refrain from some that government must not regulate and interfere in the affairs of people and businesses.  Well here is a locus where we citizens to do something to avoid that.  We can take significant voluntary action to reduce our carbon footprints. Consider what happens if we do not do this.  As the situation gets worse, there will come a time when we are really threatened by this situation. At that point there will be the need for regulations and enforcement.  We will end up with police and other officials having to enforce rules for low carbon footprint.  Sort of like many of us now will be penalized if we burn open fires of brush in suburban or urban areas.  Thus, Libertarians and Conservatives along with everyone else to the more Liberal side, if we are worth our salt, should be pushing for voluntary action to reduce carbon footprints.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Denier Confirms Global Warming

Not a lot needs to be said by me about the Richard Muller at Berkeley study results .

Watch here for more humorous and/or verbose treatments:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Climate Change Begins Maybe to Come Home

Last evening my wife and I were in the grocery store.  I checked the price of iceberg lettuce.  Fortunately, I had purchased a head a couple days earlier at BJ's for $1.49, which is higher than we usually pay since we tend to wait for specials.  So now I was in Stop and Shop, and the price was $2.49 per head.  Highest price I had ever seen for lettuce, although the heads were pretty good sized and firm.  Then I noticed a sign about ten feet to the right alerting customers to a shortage of certain items due to weather damage, and therefore higher prices.  Not lettuce, but cucumbers, squash, and a few other things.  As I went past the iceberg lettuce, I chatted briefly with another customer, who agreed that the lettuce had gotten rather pricey.  I pointed out the sign to him.  He commented that things were crazy.  I commented that it was going to get crazier.  I was thinking not just about Climate Change but also about warfare and revolution, as well as world demand for oil beginning to pass world supply.

Now today there is an article in the New York Times: I thought it was daring of the author and the New York Times to put this on the front page with the following commentary:  "Changes linked to global warming have contributed to a shortage of the beans used in specialty coffees."  Daring because we who understand Climate Change a little bit are being very careful about ascribing many of these changes to Climate Change.  There are a bunch of unethical people who are manipulating data (meaning "making it up") and arguing that Climate Change does not exist.  So the up side to that is that we avoid controversy and criticism.  The down side is that there are a lot of people who are ignoring the issue of Climate Change, and they need to get with it.

In whatever time I can manage on the side of a busy schedule, I am writing a paper on weather change and Climate Change.  Maybe I will save time by simply publishing the results on my blog.  Based on my initial data analysis, it would appear that the weather impacts have been building a lot longer than many of us had been thinking.  Winter weather in Boston seems to confirm the effect that George Woodwell explained to me one day some years ago:  More carbon in the air means that more solar energy is absorbed in the atmosphere.  More energy in the air means that that energy must go somewhere.  That means more turbulence and storminess.  This would well describe the Boston area weather pattern during the past 4-6 months.  Lots of fronts moving through with a lot more than the usual action associated with each front.  Therefore a lot of precipitation, windiness, and winter thunderstorms. 

This is showing up during warmer weather as well.  Minneapolis used to be outside the tornado belt, but the belt has been expanding since 1950 (!!).  My cousin's child lives north of Minneapolis and refers to that area as "tornado alley."  It used to be that the Minneapolis area got an occasional, or should I say rare, tornado.  I grew up there until I was 18 and went off to college.  There was one tornado in all those years.  Clearly the situation has changed.

Winter thunderstorms are a real anomaly that continued this winter and really concern me.  I do not know anyone who had experienced a winter thunderstorm until recently when I blogged about it.  If there is anyone who experienced a winter thunderstorm out there prior to two years ago, please share about it.  If you have experienced a winter thunderstorm more recently, I also want to hear about that.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thunder and Global Warming? Real Time Perception?

I am going to start to address a risky, ambiguous matter here: Can we discern climate change in substantially real time?  It is risky because in some respects the matter has already been explored in the political landscape, and the answer is a resounding "No."  A snowstorm in April in Washington D.C. does not imply global warming.  Weird weather may be an aberration, and coupled with a lot of other observations it may suggest global warming, but it does not of itself imply global warming.  And that may be the answer to the inquiry I am going to explore here, but let me proceed with my exploration.

I learned some simple logic from George Woodwell.  More carbon equivalents in the atmosphere means that more energy is absorbed and retained in the atmosphere.  Energy is active.  It manifests as change. It can manifest as more, and more intense, storms.  It manifests as turmoil in the weather.  Now that word turmoil is somewhat carefully chosen, and ambiguous.  It needs to be operationalized.  I am going to attempt a beginning.

Some members of the Narragansett tribe taught me to sit, to watch and listen very carefully.  I was sitting, watching and listening this morning, and I heard thunder that was more intense than what I would expect in a long, light, soaking rain.  I have taken some pictures and made some sound recordings.  I am interested in others' thoughts and experiences about this.

I heard the kind of thunder that my experience indicates would be associated with a rather dark sky, the kind of sky that betokens a moderate storm, a storm that one does not stay out in comfortably.  Not the sharp peals of thunder for a thunder storm, but the deep throated, sometimes loud, 3/4 of the sky kind of thunder that gets your attention anytime you are outside.  If you are out playing golf, you immediately tell yourself you are at risk, and you get off the course unless you are foolhardy.  If you are on the side of a mountain, you are very worried.

Above there is a picture of the skies to the east taken about 10 a.m. EDT through an oak tree that is emerging in its summer finery.  The lightness of the sky matches the light rain.  We have lots of these rains during the course of the year, and we like them very much.  They are the long soaking rains that are so good for the plants.  What seems unusual, maybe a little less unusual than the thunder during snowfalls that I first heard in the past year or two, is the presence of deep thunder matched with this.  In the first recording, I hear ambiguous thunder, although it has a deep throated quality that tends to suggest that there may be something more going on than the photo would suggest.  In the second recording I hear thunder with a long, deep throated peal that I have heard in storms, not light rains. In the third recording I hear thunder that betokens a larger storm arriving.

Using tools that are available, these observations could in principle be measured, quantified, tested.  Short of that, many people can listen and watch carefully, compare notes, and develop a consensus.

Is there extra energy up there in the sky, energy that must be discharged as lightning and thunder?  Is it a symptom of some sort of climate change?  Or was it merely advanced warning of somewhat darker skies (still not very dark) and heavier (not very heavy or very long) rain that came an hour later?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

About GREEN in Writing and Submitting Proposals

Having just completed the exercise of writing and submitting a somewhat lengthy proposal to an entity that is supposedly committed to fostering the development of sustainable green energy, I have many new insights about how such an organization would do well to alter its practices in furtherance of its goals.

1.Instead of structuring RFPs and procedures legalistically so that they CYA, structure them so that they cover the bases in an efficient way and do not tax respondents.  One example is keeping the format simple, eschewing Microsoft Word which is horribly buggey and unrealiable, and particularly eschewing such sophisticated "features" as text boxes, which are even buggier and more unrealiable.  The funding agency may have expert secretaries who are able to work for days to make Word function successfully for the RFP, but when people who are doers rather than bureaucrats then fill in and edit the documents, one never knows what will happen.  This has extreme risks when the RFP includes an embedded Excel spreadsheet.  Untold hours of burden are added simply trying to get Word to work.  Rather than rely on Word not detroying our overall document, I commanded that the document be broken in pieces, converted into Acrobat documents, then integrated using Adobe Acrobat.  Much more reliable!  But it may have created some unhappiness in the funding organization.  I hope it does not eliminate us from the competition.

2.  Have respondents enter each piece of information only once.  Yes, I understand that the bureaucratic necessity is to have N complete, independent documents with each document presenting the key information for each different type of reader.  But take a lesson from information technology professionals.  Have people enter only once.  To do otherwise is to force errors.

3.  These kinds of extra work requirements take up the time of professionals who are the ones who are supposed to be enabled to implement the green revolution.  They run contrary to the purpose of an organization that is charged with enabling these same people.

4.  Follow the lead of so many other organizations.  Have applicants file electronically.  The Army has had electronic filing of small business proposals for years now.  It is a standard format on a web page.  It has its idiosyncracies, but one files from whereever on is, perhaps in a hotel room at a conference, or overseas, or in one's office, and the deal is done.  Contrast this with the troglodyte way.  The PDF file and the Word file have been created.  Now take a half hour or more, some ink and some paper, to print them out.  Now drive to Staples to copy them and have six of them bound.  Now get them to their destination.  This takes hours of time, and costs $40 plus time versus substantially nothing.  That is a lot of carbon, as well.  No wonder Internet people refer to snail mail.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Concerned Scientists on Environment Legislation

Jean Sideris at Concerned Scientists

BA anthro, MA journalism
Outreach coordinator for the Climate Change program

A source for graphics and information is

Why New Englanders may not want to see our climate change to that of South Carolina over the next 50-100 years:
Present climate kills off many pests
Fruits etc need a certain number of cold days to bear proper fruit
Winter recreation

MA global warming solutions act
Regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI) -- cap and trade (Jan 2009)

House of Rep

American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES)
Emission reduced by 17% by 2020

Science review -- EPA does a review every 4 years, NAS does review of tech every 4 years, then the two do a review and make policy recommendations

20% renewable electivity by 2020

Energy efficiency for new appliances and building codes
Grants for local communities
Transition for industry
Protection from increase in energy costs for lower income


Clearn energy jobs and American Power Act (Kerry-Boxer EPW)
Similar to ACES
Emissions reduced 20% by 2020
Same science review
More energy material
Lower energy efficiency standard
Not as many appliances as for House
Other committees are coming out with different parts of it

No full senate vote in 2009
3-4 months in 2010 to move this forward.

EPA endangerment finding
CO2 a pollutant so EPA can regulate it.
They are moving forward on this, in part to put pressure on Congress.


Earth Policy Institute
Lester Brown

Detailed policy analysis is available at

 360B trees needed to undo CO2 in atmosphere

Joe Ferguson
Roosevelt -- March of Dimes
Need real leadership
We expected Obama to be a real leader
Need to have leadership to encourage kids to each plant a tree each year, or something like that.  Simple things can help.

Even though progress may be slow on the Federal level, the states (and regions) are not waiting.
Western climate initiative
6 states in Midwest also is very early in their process.

A question from the audience:
How can US lead if we have no formal policy?

Another question.
How does Copenhagen work?
Tod Stern is national climate envoy.
Part of Obama admin.
Kerry and Hillary will be there. Obama may go himself. If he feels things are moving toward a treaty, he will go there.
Annex 1 is a separate group.
Kyoto in about 1992(?) that the US did not ratify.

Potential issue:  What happens in 2012 if the process runs out?
UN leads the Copenhagen effort.
UN created it.

Chamber of Commerce
Farm Bureau
American Petroleum Institute
and others

Issue used to be whether global warming was real.

Now the issue is COSTs.

European cap and trade was not well designed
RGGI worked better because auction off pollution permits.
Issue is how get the permits. EU gave permits to the companies. Companies took them and raised their energy prices for customers.

RGGI auctioned nearly 100% of them. Gave more incentive for electric companies to make changes faster.

Money from auctioning them allowed investment in clean energy.

EU is not reaching their goals as quickly as they thought they would.

Nine republican congressmen voted for the climate bill.  The reaction from the Right has been quite negative, which again raises the question of why the Right sees this as an issue.  Is it merely that Republicans and the Right Wing are reflexively taking a position opposing anything that Democratic leadership proposes or supports?  Well, it would seem there is a lot of that.  But maybe it just seems that way because there is no strong leadership that is delineating the position in relation to fundamental principles or thinking.  For example, the Right often espouses the avoidance of International governance.  The UN, Kyoto, and Copenhagen are clearcut examples of International governance, or at least international agreement.  Thus these would be things to be fought.  Here is the list of Republicans who voted for Cap and Trade, as reported by a Right-leaning web site.  The commentary is that of the author of the website, not my own.

June 27, 2009

Nine Republicans voted FOR Cap and Trade

…which just passed, 219-212. I see only 8 listed. Kick the bums out in 2010.

Republicans voting AYE:

John McHugh, New York 23rd District. From his website…”ninth consecutive term in office.

During this time, Rep. McHugh has been a champion of fiscal responsibility; lower taxes; protecting Social Security and Medicare; providing stronger, better schools; and protecting America’s farmers. He has also been a leader in the country’s policy on national defense.”

Frank A. LoBiondo, New Jersey 2nd District. Ugh. ly. New Jersey, the armpit of America.

Chris Smith, New Jersey 4th District. “Smith has represented the citizens of New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District since 1981, when he was sworn into office at the age of 27. Throughout his 28 years of service, he has established himself as one of the hardest-working, most compassionate and dedicated members of the House.” He’s been there too long. Time for a boot.

Dave Reichart, Washington (St) 8th District. “Dave is committed to working in a bipartisan fashion with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to find viable solutions based on sound scientific practices that reach a balance between protecting our precious natural resources and providing economic growth in our nation.” Way to go, Dave, you freakin’ idiot. Hope you wind up booted in 2010.

Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois 10th District. “Mark Kirk represents the 10th Congressional District of Illinois located in the suburbs north of Chicago.

Now in his fifth term, Congressman Kirk is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is co-chairman of the moderate GOP Tuesday Group and the bipartisan House US-China Working Group.

In Congress, Congressman Kirk works to advance a suburban agenda that is pro-defense, pro-personal responsibility, pro-environment, and pro-science.” Must be too close to the Chicago Machine to dare cross Obama. Horse’s head, maybe?

Mike Castle, Delaware “Mike Castle is currently serving a record ninth term as Delaware’s lone Member in the House of Representatives. Since coming to Congress in 1993, he has worked to bring the common-sense approach of Delaware’s bipartisan legislating to Washington, D.C. He has been building bridges and forming coalitions to find pragmatic, bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing the country and believes strongly in returning the Congressional agenda to issues that really matter to the American people.” Well, you certainly have a bipartisan record, Mike. Hope you are thrown out in 2010.

Leonard Lance New Jersey, 7th District. Wait, we already had a NJ Rep, Chris Smith. Are these guys twins? “Congressman Leonard Lance was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2008 to represent New JerseyĆ¢€™s 7th Congressional District. The 7th Congressional District includes parts of Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Union Counties.

Prior to coming to Congress, Lance served as a member of the New Jersey State Senate beginning in 2002, where he represented the 23rd Legislative District. He held the position of Minority Leader of the Senate from 2004 to 2008.

Lance was sworn in as a Member of Congress on January 6, 2009 and was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, where he will work on a wide range of issues relating to the financial services sector and the American economy. ” A newcomer, who hopefully won’t return.

Mary Bono Mack, California 45th District. Wait…Bono…yep, this turdlet was married to Sonny Bono. Mary didn’t start using the Bono name until after Sonny Bono died. “In 1998, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack was first elected to serve the people of California's 45th District through a special election held to fill the seat left vacant by her late husband, The Honorable Sonny Bono. Since then, Bono Mack has established herself as a leader on such issues as clean, alternative energy, protecting the environment, improving health care, and protecting consumers.” Protecting which consumers? Maybe the ones who pay taxes should’ve been on your agenda, Mary!

And, California. Who knew?

Indigenous Forests and Carbon Offsetting

The paragraph below summarizes the Public Radio treatment of a conflict in thinking through the use in "cap and trade" of trees/forests as sinks for carbon.  The paragraph and a connection to the radio show is at  My notes and comments are below.

Buying and Selling Carbon Offsets

As world leaders prepare for next month’s UN Climate Change Conference, we look at what’s known as “avoided deforestation credits”. Mark Schapiro took a look at one use of these credits in Brazil, where General Motors, Chevron and American Electric Power purchased 50,000 acres of Brazilian forests nearly a decade ago. They agreed to preserve the forests, with the understanding that they have the rights to sell carbon offset credits based on how much carbon the forest is storing. Schapiro documents what he found in Mother Jones magazine.

It seems to me that this discussion summarizes one of the struggles in formalizing things into policies, rules, laws, and formal agreements.  On one hand, we need to see incentive structures to reward nations and local people to protect and save their forests.  As a highly-educated man from Borneo noted, his tribe could not have afforded his education without harvesting timber on a large parcel (not a large percentage) of its land.  So there needs to be a way to get cash to such people to enable them to participate in the international sphere if they wish to do so, but without damaging their forests or the ability of those forests to sequester carbon.  On the other hand, simple rules can be gamed by powerful, wealthy stakeholders.  That of itself no too serious a problem, but such gaming can lead to bookkeeping that indicates a net carbon sequestration, while the reality is more carbon in the atmosphere.  The debate is about how to do this right.
Here are some of my notes as I listened to the radio program.
NPR - Buying and Selling Carbon Offsets -- 091110

Trees are one of the most contentious issues leading into the climate change meetings in December. Companies such as General Motors have invested in such as 50,000 acres of Brazilian forest land to obtain “Avoided Deforestation Credits.” This leads to protected forest areas similar to those of thousands of years ago with rich flora and fauna that often are not seen in forests that are harvested or destroyed. One key issue is how much carbon a tree pulls out of the atmosphere. How do you measure the carbon in a tree? [I know from Geroge Woodwell and the Woods Hole Research Center that researchers regard the amount of carbon sequestered in typical forests of various types to be a known quantity.  However, the issue may revolve around the particulars.]  For example, a researcher walks around with rangers to measure the girth and height of a sample of trees. About 50% of a tree is carbon. By this tally, 50,000 acres is not enough sequestered carbon to offset all that GM produces. But then another issue is that this commoditizes the forests, something that many people, including indigenous people, dislike. The trees can be bought and sold. International body: buying and selling of existing trees is not acceptable for carbon credit. Avoided deforestation is not acceptable. Reasons: ambiguity of the amount of carbon in trees, leakage (move tree harvesting to somewhere else with no net positive effect). Brazil objects strenuously to selling off its forest in this way. Repoerter is Mark Shapiro of Center for Investigative Reporting.

What happens to the indigenous people who live there, that is in or near GM's 50,000 acres? Actually, they do not live on the 50,000 acres.  The outer boundary of the reserve is lined with villages. They are restricted in their use of the land. They basically cannot harvest or hunt. Thus, people end up in cities, unemployed. Some people are pushing for informed consent by indigenous people before such land can be converted like this.

Large companies have established a lobby to push for forest offsets. Nature Conservancy is involved with this on the same size. Some other environmental groups are involved on the opposing side.  Cap and Trade bills allow for this. Emission reduction at home would cost $50B and is much less expensive if companies such as GM can claim carbon offsets by purchasing such land.

EU does not allow forest offsets. Collision course with American approach. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth do not like American approach.

Deforestation contributes to about 20% of the carbon in the atmosphere. Important to restrain this process. This yields carbon in the atmosphere the same way that fossil fuel burning does.

Important to avoid delusion. Some of this may work logically, but it is important not to fall into believing that this way of offsetting is as simple as presented by the current players.