Blog Archive

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Joe Romm: George Will and WattsUpWithThat embrace a proud former shill for a man convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges

September 14, 2014

We all do well to remember how we got to this point.  

Things seemed very different in June of 2009.  People were finally very hopeful that we were on the road to doing something about carbon emissions.  (Please read the comments at the link to the post.  They are really instructive.  Some of you will recognize the names.  I see Peter Sinclair, Gail Zawacki, Dano, dhogaza and Anna Hayes, for example.  For the uninitiate, "TVMOB" = Viscount Monckton.)  

Not so many months after Joe Romm wrote this post, the fake scandal of "Climategate" was trumped up, and the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP15) was in shambles.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton had to chase after the BRIC leaders holding secret meetings.  

Senator Inhofe was threatening Michael Mann.  The main newspapers and TV networks took climate change off the radar.

And so here we are.......

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, June 28 and 29, 2009
Denial makes strange bedfellows.
Two of the leading sources of anti-scientific disinformation on global warming — George Will and Anthony Watts’ blog WattsUpWithThat — have embraced a man, Robert Bradley, who proudly shilled for Enron CEO Ken Lay, who was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in 2006.
Watts and I, you may recall, got into a tiny dustup a couple weeks ago (see Exclusive: New NSIDC director Serreze explains the “death spiral” of Arctic ice, brushes off the “breathtaking ignorance” of blogs like WattsUpWithThat and here).   Since then, Watts has been throwing everything at me including the kitchen stink, with four full posts attacking me this month.  I was planning to ignore him, until two things happened.
First, Watts ran a truly nonsensical piece (here) by Bradley, who is now President of the Institute for Energy Research, which “has received $307,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.”  Bradley is one of the Denier-Industrial-Complex Kooks (DICKs) — see, for instance, “Mysterious industry front-group affiliated with Ken Lay’s former speechwriter launches anti-Waxman-Markey ads with phony MIT cost figures.”
Second, George Will published a piece, “Tilting at Green Windmills” in which he uses a discredited Spanish “study” to claim clean energy investments don’t create jobs (for debunking by CP and the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre, see here and here and here).  Will’s piece is noteworthy for this remarkable admission:
[This] study was supported by a like-minded U.S. think tank (the Institute for Energy Research, for which this columnist has given a paid speech.
That’s right, George Will published an entire piece based on disinformation bought and paid for by a think tank that is bought and paid for by ExxonMobil and run by Ken Lay’s former top shill — and Will also took money from that think tank. At least editorial page editor Fred Hiatt required that much in return for letting Will publish his umpteenth article full of misleading and inaccurate statements.
Now you may say, wait a minute, Joe, sure Bradley served as Director of Public Policy Analysis at Enron, where he was a speechwriter for CEO Kenneth Lay,” who was “convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges on May 25, 2006″ — but how can you say he proudly shilled for Lay when he has wiped any trace of his connection to Enron from his IER biohere?
Well, I have had the misfortune of knowing Bradley for a long time, since Enron Energy Services (EES) reached out to many leading experts on energy efficiency, and they really liked by book, Cool Companies.  Certainly none of the energy efficiency folks were aware of what Enron was doing or they would have quit immediately.  I don’t even know if anyone in EES management knew what Ken Lay and his buddies in top management were doing to fraudulently rip-off the public.
And I have no idea whether Bradley knew of the fraudulent activity, but he certainly knew what kind of company he was working for.  Over the past several months, Bradley has bombarded me with requests to publish articles about the disinformation he and his IER buddies have written.  Just last month he wrote to me and James Hansen:
I wish you (and him) could have been in the Enron government affairs meetings on CO2 trading–we were going to game it to death and make money coming and going. And no one was quaking about the future of global climate.
and before that he wrote to us:
We were going to laugh all the way to the bank with our CO2 trading until the banks said no more laughing–you’re broke.  Keep trying Joe–Enron Lives!
Enron does live in on the likes of people like Bradley.  That’s why Waxman-Markey has put in many safeguards to protect the public from fraud in the CO2 trading.
Does that mean the system will be free from fraud?  Of course not.  You can write all the laws you want against fraud and robbery and other crimes, and greedy people who think they are smarter than everyone else will still break the law.  The same is true of the tax code — people try to cheat it all the time and some succeed.
But one thing you can certainly say about CO2 trading:  The overwhelming majority of CO2 emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels, and flows of natural gas, oil, and coal are very closely tracked in this country, both sales and purchases.  So it would be quite hard to engage in significant fraud of the kind that would lead to, say, much higher actual emissions than were being measured and regulated.  And as for cornering the market and running up the price of a tradable commodity, an Enron specialty, again, W-M has multiple safeguards to prevent that outcome.
I am not going to waste time here debunking the latest Bradley-Watts attack on me since I have dealt with almost every point in previous posts.  It is 100% nonsense, which is no surprise since it is largely an excerpt from something Roger Pielke, Jr., wrote.  But it does contain one unintentionally humorous attack I will address in a later post.

The point is that one shouldn’t have to debunk anything Bradley writes — or anything the Institute for Energy Research has published or supported, including George Will.  You just need to consider the source.

Amazon rainforest deforestation in Brazil drastically reducing rain for agriculture and drinking

Scientists in Brazil believe the loss of billions of litres of water released as vapour clouds by Amazon rainforest trees is the result of continuing deforestation and climate change – leading to devastating drought.

by Jan Rocha, Climate News Network, September 14, 2014

SÃO PAULO − The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the stream of water vapor clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the centre and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump,” releasing billions of litres of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of water vapor.

Meteorologist Jose Marengo, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, first coined the phrase “flying rivers” to describe these massive volumes of atmospheric water vapor that rise from the rainforest, travel west, and then − blocked by the Andes − turn south.

Satellite images from the Centre for Weather Forecasts and Climate Research of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) clearly show that, during January and February this year, the flying rivers failed to arrive, unlike the previous five years.

Alarming proportions

Deforestation all over Brazil has reached alarming proportions: 22% of the Amazon rainforest (an area larger than Portugal, Italy and Germany combined), 47% of the Cerrado in central Brazil, and 91.5% of the Atlantic forest that used to cover the entire length of the coastal area.

Latest figures from Deter, the Real Time Deforestation Detection System based on high frequency satellite images used by INPE, show that, after falling for two years, Amazon deforestation rose again by 10% between August 2013 and July 2014. The forest is being cleared for logging and farming.

Tocantins, Pará and Mato Grosso, three states in the Greater Amazon region that have suffered massive deforestation, are all registering higher average temperatures.

As long ago as 2009, Antonio Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, warned that, without the “flying rivers,” the area that produces 70% of South America’s GNP would be desert.

In an interview with the journal Valor Economica, he said: “Destroying the Amazon to advance the agricultural frontier is like shooting yourself in the foot. The Amazon is a gigantic hydrological pump that brings the humidity of the Atlantic Ocean into the continent and guarantees the irrigation of the region.”

“Of course, we need agriculture,” he said. “But without trees there would be no water, and without water there is no food.

"A tonne of soy takes several tonnes of water to produce. When we export soy we are exporting fresh water to countries that don’t have this rain and can’t produce. It is the same with cotton, with ethanol. Water is the main agricultural input. If it weren’t, the Sahara would be green, because it has extremely fertile soil.”


Like other climate scientists, Nobre thinks the role of the Amazon rainforest in producing rain has been underestimated. In a single day, the Amazon region evaporates 20 billion tons of water vapor − more than the 17 million tonnes of water that the Amazon river discharges each day into the Atlantic.

“A big tree with a crown 20 metres across evaporates up to 300 litres a day, whereas one square metre of ocean evaporates exactly one square metre,” he said. “One square metre of forest can contain eight or 10 metres of leaves, so it evaporates eight or 10 times more than the ocean. This flying river, which rises into the atmosphere in the form of vapor, is bigger than the biggest river on the Earth.”

The fear is that if the Amazon rainforest continues to be depleted at the present rate, events like the unprecedented drought of 2010 will occur more often. The fires set by farmers to clear areas for planting or for cattle-raising make it more vulnerable.

Nobre explained: “The smoke from forest fires introduces too many particles into the atmosphere, dries the clouds, and they don’t rain. During the dry period, of the fires, the forest always maintained a little rain that left it humid and non-flammable, but now two months go by without rain, the forest gets very dry, and the fire gets into it. Amazon trees, unlike those of the Cerrado, have no resistance to fire.”

Nobre’s warning in 2009 was that if deforestation did not stop, there would be a catastrophe in five or six years time. Five years on, his words are now proving to be prophetic as São Paulo and all Brazil’s centre and southeast suffer their worst ever drought, with devastating effects on agriculture, energy and domestic water supplies.

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Wake Up Call Sounded' on Climate, University Faculty Launch Largest Divestment Effort to Date

245 Boston University faculty members ask President and Board of Trustees to divest its endowment from oil, gas, and coal companies.

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer, Common Dreams, September 11, 2014

A group of Divest BU activists at a rally outside the Massachusetts statehouse this spring. (Photo: Divest BU)
In the largest of such efforts by a single university's faculty to date, 245 Boston University professors and instructors on Tuesday called on the President and Board of Trustees to divest its endowment from oil, gas, and coal companies. 

“Because it is unlikely that fossil fuel interests (the major source of this crisis) will stop of their own accord their unrelenting drive to burn these fuels at current rates, we must find strategies to induce them to stop," the letter reads. “We have a moral obligation to align our financial interests with the future of our planet. It is wrong to use our endowment to commission the destruction of a hospitable climate for our students, our children and—as is increasingly evident—ourselves. The wake up call has sounded. It is time to act!”

Faculty representatives, along with a member of the DivestBU student group with which the faculty has formed a coalition, brought their petition to the office of university President Robert Brown on Tuesday afternoon. Brown accepted the letter personally and spoke with the group for about half an hour.

“We are very pleased to hear that President Brown shares with the faculty a deep concern over the threat of climate change,” biology professor Ed Loechler said in a statement. “He also concurs that climate change will be the most important investment issue for the university in the next few years and will thus encourage the institution to engage in open dialogue on this matter.”

Brown said he would forward the petition to the trustees when they meet in two weeks and to the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which was created last year. According to BU Today, the university's news site, the board has divested due to social pressures "at least twice before: in 1979, when it pulled BU’s money from companies with ties to South Africa to protest apartheid, and in 2006, when it divested from companies directly tied to or supporting businesses in Sudan, to protest that government’s genocide in Darfur."

BU Today reports that Brown, "who is a chemical engineer, confessed to being personally ambivalent about whether divestment was the best strategy for 'a very complicated issue.'" He has claimed the best way to combat climate change is to reduce consumption of fossil fuels; to that end, the university has adopted a plan to cut its emissions by focusing on conservation, retrofitting older buildings, and switching from oil to natural gas for energy needs. 

The group says its action builds on the momentum of previous higher education divestment calls, most recently from last April when 93 members of Harvard University’s faculty urged the university to divest from fossil fuels.  According to the website, more than a dozen colleges and universities have already pledged to divest from fossil fuels. There are active divestment campaigns on many more campuses across the country.

Brazil says rate of Amazon deforestation up for first time in years

Rainforest of Maranhao

by Vincent Bevins, The Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2014

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil -- The  deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil increased by 29% in the last recorded year, according to figures released Wednesday by the country's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). 

According to the study, carried out by satellite imaging, the Brazilian region of the world's largest rain forest lost 2,275 square miles, nearly five times the area of the city of Los Angeles, from August 2012 through July 2013.

“The result indicates there is effectiveness in combating deforestation, particularly since the 2004 creation of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon,” the report says. 

Marina Silva
Marina Silva, presidential candidate of Brazil's Socialist Party, speaks to reporters during a visit to a public school in Sao Paulo on Monday. (Andre Penner / Associated Press)

Brazil's environment minister in 2004 was Marina Silva, who is now narrowly ahead in polls and poised to defeat incumbent Dilma Rousseff for the presidency next month. If she wins, she would be considered Brazil's first environmentalist president as well as the first president from the Amazon region.

But despite a relative slowing of the speed of destruction in the last decade, the Amazon has continued to shrink every year. Some of its trees are cleared for timber, but more are cleared to create grazing land for agriculture.

The rate of deforestation increased recently most quickly in the states of Mato Grosso, in the middle of Brazil's soy boom, and Maranhao, where armed indigenous residents recently captured and expelled illegal loggers from their land.

In 2012, Brazil's Congress passed a new forestry code governing the Amazon and deforestation. The law was seen as a step forward from the lawlessness that preceded it but was criticized by environmental groups that disagreed with provisions that would give amnesty to illegal Amazon destroyers.

Most analysts consider the pro-development agricultural bloc the most powerful alliance in Brazil's legislature.

Arctic Sea sediment cores going back 200,000 years: the 2014 International Expedition

En vanlig dag i mitt expeditionsliv

Efter den första tidens villervalla med att hitta och få ordning på alla saker och hitta sin egen plats i tillvaron ombord, så har rutinerna fallit på plats och åtminstone mina dagar är rätt lika varandra. Tänkte att jag skulle beskriva hur en vanlig arbetsdag ser ut:
Efter frukost, som serveras 7.45–8.15, är det dags för mig att gå ut till det blå tältet på fördäck och dela sedimentkärnor i halvor  – eller ”splitta” dom, som vi säger. Det kommer nya kärnor i en aldrig sinande ström, och vi försöker splitta dom så snart som möjligt, men ligger ständigt efter.
Kärnorna är redan delade i längder på 1,5 meter eller kortare, och har scannats av ett instrument som mäter bland annat densitet och magnetiska egenskaper. Några har också redan tagits vattenprov ifrån genom hål borrade i linern (plaströret som sedimentet ligger i).
Jag delar sedimentet med ståltråd.
Jag delar sedimentet med ståltråd.
I det blå tältet har vi en ”core splitter”, som består av ett spår man lägger kärnan på och två sågar monterade på en bygel över spåret. Man ställer in sågarna så att de nästan ska gå igenom linern, men inte in i sedimentet. Efter sågarna sitter knivblad som ska skära sista biten. Bygeln med sågarna vevar man för hand från ena änden till den andra. När linern har delats skär man locken som sitter i ändarna mitt itu och efter det delar man själva sedimentet genom att dra en ståltråd igenom det. Därefter kan man i bästa fall bara låta halvorna falla isär – eller i värsta fall, när det bara klibbar ihop, behöva ta en stekspade och göra en mindre snygg delning. Jag splittar kärnor tillsammans med antingen Pedro, Natalia eller Laura. Tre till sex sektioner per dag brukar det bli och ibland går det lätt som en plätt, men ofta är det något som krånglar – knivbladet går av, sågen/kniven har inte sågat hela vägen igenom, ståltråden går av, eller så blåser det så att vinden trycker in sidan på tältet och håller på att välta bordet vi jobbar på när linern är delad... När vinden kommer från andra sidan blåser det rakt in i tältet så snön yr in och fingrarna domnar bort. Tur att vi är utrustade med gott humör.

Sågar och knivblad på core splittern.
Sågar och knivblad på core splittern.

Core splitter med sedimentkärna.
Core splitter med sedimentkärna.

Pedro med splittad sedimentkärna.
Pedro med splittad sedimentkärna.

När kärnorna är delade bär vi in dem i labbet, där Pedro gör mätningar av några fysikaliska egenskaper på den ena halvan, som sedan packas in och sparas som ”arkivhalva”. Den andra halvan, ”arbetshalvan”, gör Laura och Tom en noggrann beskrivning av. De antecknar hur sedimentet ser ut, vid vilka djup vi ser förändringar i färg och kornstorlek och om förändringarna är skarpa eller gradvisa. Om vi hittar stenar, som sannolikt transporterats dit av is, eller större snäckskal noteras det också. Snäckskalen kan senare användas för att göra kol-14-dateringar. För att färgbeskrivningen inte ska bli helt subjektiv, använder man en färgkarta (soil color book) för att hitta den nyans som ligger närmast sedimentets. Man brukar se istiderna som grå lager, medan perioder av varmare klimat som nu, ger chokladbrun lera. Under tider då stora istäcken smälter av får man grövre material i sedimentet. I många kärnor ser vi bara den senaste istiden (ca 15–25 tusen år sedan), men vissa kan man se flera, åtminstone tre, och vi är då ungefär 150–200 tusen år tillbaka i tiden.
Medan experterna beskriver sedimentet, gör jag etikett- och märkningsarbete av provpåsar på löpande band. Alla prover måste vara märkta med vilken sedimentkärna de kommer ifrån, vilken sektion och vilket djup. Sedan, någon gång under eftermiddagen, börjar vi ta ut delprover ur arbetshalvan, för att titta på forntida småkryp och skal i mikroskåp, eller göra kemiska analyser senare. Även arbetshalvan packas sedan noga in och sparas för att kunna ta ut flera delprover senare. När vi hunnit så långt har klockan ofta hunnit bli sju-åtta på kvällen. I början bar vi alla inpackade kärnor direkt till kylcontainern på fjärde våningen – ganska tungt för en klen typ som mig – men efter några småincidenter med snubbel i trapporna och vind som gjorde det svårt att komma runt hörnen (och blåste min hjälm från huvudet över bord), har vi börjat bära kärnorna dagtid istället, när vi ligger still under provtagning.
Utöver splittande och provtagning, gör jag också pH-mätningar på vissa kärnor – men mer om det en annan gång.
Sedimentkärna med tydliga färg- och kornstorleksförändringar. Till höger sektion ett med bottenytan överst, därefter sektion två och tre till vänster. I nedre högra hörnet Munsell soil color book, som används för att bestämma färgnyanser.
Sedimentkärna med tydliga färg- och kornstorleksförändringar. Till höger sektion ett med bottenytan överst, därefter sektion två och tre till vänster. I nedre högra hörnet Munsell soil color book, som används för att bestämma färgnyanser.
by Carina Johansson


Some startling fairly newly described positive (as in "not good") feedbacks in the melting process of Greenland's ice sheet and glaciers.

[And, we note the appearances of former climate scientist hunks of the month Jason Box and Alun Hubbard!]

by Peter Sinclair, Yale Climate Forum, September 11, 2014



in the last 11 years we have a high-quality satellite measurements
love the mass a Greenland and Antarctic ice
and it shows a doubling the
mass loss rate in the past decade
and new data from the European Space Agency's krauss admission
shows that the Greenland ice sheet equal to 22 feet above sea level rising
has more than doubled its meltwater output in the last five years
your across the surface in the shower she
is rampant and idk
causing I'm told damage to basically I sheet
and it's doing math in deep interior regions that never before
not least in the last ten thousand years have
been susceptible to that woman in early August
the short summers dwindling and South West Greenland no longer gets twenty
four hours of sunlight
descending into in erie Twilight for several hours each night
streams lakes and ponds that cover the surface during sunny hours
slow their flow begin to free I'll
when sunshine returns strongly the melting process begins again
in areas where Dustin algae dark and the snow the process is even more rapid
and streams quickly returned to rush in Torrance
across the a sheep thousands and nameless short-lived lakes
dot the landscape Mike
lakes have been forming higher up on the inland I she'd
the lakes can be nine square kilometers in area
in a form all over the ice sheet many thousands of them
and these have been increasing in number and in areas
because that their dark color the absorb sunlight there like big solar collectors
one of the most striking can has it is features at the Greenland ice sheet
are the places where rushing water plunges deep into the ice
called Moreland's after the French word for male
and at these points
not water with all its story he'd penetrates deep into the a sheet
and is now Terios expand delivers want two regions that have been frozen solid
for many millennia
this morn
is large enough to swallow a school bus I'll
dramatic event that occurs with many of the lakes
is the drain abruptly sending an enormous volume of water down
into the ice sheet spreading out at the bed
lubricating eye she flow producing
dramatic fast acceleration said
this increasing supply have no water draining into the icy
is adding heat to the ice which softens the ice
leading it to low faster under its own way meltwater continues to flow
in some areas reaching a calving front
good giant glacier walls push icebergs relentlessly into the sea
in good
in the meltwater thats jetting out
under the front a marine terminating glaciers like a Jacuzzi
forces heat exchange with the warmer sea water
that melts and undercuts Glacier Point promoting
icebergs having our my
and that produces a an instant flow acceleration because that's less flow
when Burk's break off so that the direct connection between
meltwater and flow speed at the glacier front
as the greater flows faster the cracks there crevasses they
they open up morale allowing more water to drain and
in this process we call
Hydra fracture that water acting under gravity
actually helps the cracks open up faster
this further promotes flow speed
increase at every stage in the process
the flow not water reinforces the other stages
in a vicious cycle that accelerates loss advice
it would glaciologist call a positive feedback
accelerating ice loss in ways that scientists have only recently begun to
Greenland sea level contribution
10 years ago was half a millimeter per year ten years later it's one millimeter
period it's expected that that
loss rate will continue to double it with
periodo somewhere between five and
and 12 years so the next decade Greenland's losing two millimeters per
the next decade four millimeters per year the next decade
8 millimeters per year you take that to the end of the century
and in the agreement I see is
yielding about and one meter
above sea level just from Greenland
I'm so the mean sea level
projections the recently been published by
the IPCC are very likely underestimates because
they don't contain all of the
the process ease in the models that are used to make these projections
I'll day
ruling the meeting
the morning