Blog Archive

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jeff Masters: Hottest day on record in Texas panhandle

Hottest day on record in Texas Panhandle
by Jeff Masters, wunderblog, June 27, 2011
The hottest temperatures in recorded history scorched large portions of the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma Panhandle, and southwestern Kansas on Sunday. Amarillo hit 111 °F, breaking its hottest day-ever record of 109 °F (set just two days previously, on June 24). Borger, Texas, hit 113 °F, smashing the previous hottest day-ever record set on June 24, 2011, of 108 °F. Dalhart, Texas, had its hottest day on record, 110 °F, beating the 108 °F on June 24, 2011. Dodge City, Kansas, tied its all-time record with 110 °F (last seen on June 29, 1998). Dodge City has temperature records back to 1874. Yesterday saw the hottest temperatures of the month for Texas with 116.2 °F at Childress, Northfield, and Memphis (all in the panhandle region). These readings are not far from the state record of 120 °F set at Monahas on June 28, 1994, and at Seymore on August 12, 1936.

A cold front moved through the region overnight, bringing northerly winds and cooler temperatures to the region. However, a new ridge of high pressure will gradually build in this week and temperatures are expected to reach near-record levels again by Thursday, with 102 °F expected in Amarillo, which is their all-time record for the date. The record-breaking temperatures in Texas are being caused, in part, by the record drought. Under normal conditions, the sun's heat expends part of its energy evaporating water from the soil and from vegetation. This energy is stored as "latent heat" in the water evaporated, and is not available to heat the air up. However, when a severe drought dries up the soil and kills the vegetation, there is much more heat available to go directly into heating up the air, since there is little moisture to evaporate. The increased temperatures help to strengthen the high pressure system dominating the drought region, making it even more difficult for rain-bearing low pressure systems to bring drought-busting rains. This positive feedback effect is a key reason why we expect more intense droughts and heat waves in a warmer climate.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has many more details on the great Texas drought of 2011 in his latest post, updated Sunday night. He reports that Pecos, Texas has had no precipitation since September 23, 2010 -- one of the longest rain-free periods for a U.S. city in recorded history, outside of the desert regions of Arizona and California.

Figure 1. Latest weekly drought conditions for Texas, as compiled by the U.S. Drought Monitor. West Texas is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history.

Brendan DeMelle: Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon

Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon

Comment on this StoryEmail this story
by Brendan DeMelle, DeSmogBlog, June 30, 2011
The Heartland Institute is convening a who's-who of the global warming denial machine in Washington, DC over the next two days for the sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6).

Seemingly content to let the world burn, the denizens of Denial-a-Palooza work year-round to sow doubt and confusion about climate change among the public - aided by Fox News and other friendly media outlets - so that no action is taken to limit heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. This event is attended by the best corporate front groups that polluter money can buy, and this year is no exception.

As in past years, the speakers and sponsors lists are dripping with oil money, and comprise nearly the full roster of groups who share a common interest - greenwashing dirty energy sources like oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of the world's top climate scientists. The presentations will misrepresent the state of climate science, while the real action will take place backstage, as these groups coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Note the intentional naming of this "ICCC" to sound like the IPCC.)
Let's take a look at the funding of the sponsors of ICCC6:
17 of the 43 sponsors of the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, including the Heartland Institute itself, have collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil and its foundation.
Most of these organizations, including many that choose not to disclose their funding sources, comprise the core of the industry attack on global warming science. See below for a complete breakdown of funding details:

Scaife Foundations (1998-2010):$28,557,000 ($12,205,000 more than 2010*)
Koch Foundations (1998-2009):$11,330,980 ($6,241,230 less than 2010)
ExxonMobil (1998-2010):  $6,276,900 ($311,350 less than 2010)
Total Funding (1998-2010):  $46,164,880
*The Heritage Foundation, notably absent from the 2010 ICCC, is a sponsor again for the 2011 ICCC. Heritage has received $14,873,571 from industry sources.

Here are the funding totals for organizations sponsoring Heartland's conference that are known to have received support from oil-fueled 'free market' foundations:
*= past sponsor. 
Accuracy in Media* 
  • $3,120,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
Americans For Prosperity* 
Americans for Tax Reform *
  • $60,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $575,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $635,500 
Ayn Rand Institute*
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE)*
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change*
  • $85,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $100,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
  • $100,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $285,000 
    Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)*
    • $12,285 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
    • $582,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
    • $1,915,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
    • Total: $2,509,285
      Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)*
      • $421,746 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
      • $2,005,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
      • $2,575,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
      • Total: $5,001,746
        Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) 
        • $27,592 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009
        • $90,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 
        • Total: $117, 592
        George C. Marshall Institute*
        • $310,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009 ($70,000 in 2009)
        • $840,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • $2,595,000 received from Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($230,000 in 2010)
        • Total: $3,435,310
        Heartland Institute
        • $20,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
        • $676,500 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • Total: $696,500
        Heritage Foundation
        • $3,708,571 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($618,571 in 2009)
        • $670,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 ($50,000 in 2010)
        • $10,495,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($600,000 in 2010)
        • Total: $14,873,571
        Independent Institute
        • $50,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
        • $85,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • Total: $135,000
        Independent Women’s Forum (IWF)
        • $485,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($150,000 in 2009)
        • $50,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • $1,850,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • Total: $2,385,000
        Media Research Center (a.k.a. the Business & Media Institute)*
        • $15,005 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
        • $362,500 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • $3,667,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($250,000 in 2010)
        • Total: $4 044 505
        National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)
        • $500,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($25,000 in 2009)
        • $645,900 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
        • $1,575,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($100,000 in 2010)
        • Total: 2,720,900
        Science and Environmental Policy Project
        • $20,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2000
        Many of the conference's other sponsors have been indirectly funded by industry, or are tied to "free market" foundations:
        60 Plus 
        African Center for Advocacy and Human Development 
        • No funding information.
        Alternate Solutions Institute American Energy Freedom Center*
        • Received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which in turn has received over $1,080,000 from ExxonMobil, $153,000 from the Koch Foundations, and $2,270,000 from the Scaife Foundations.
        American Policy Center
        • No funding records.
        American Tradition Institute
        • The ATI’s staff include Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a leading force in climate denial.  Horner edits the Cooler Heads Coalition’s website.   The ATI has successfully sued the University of Virginia for Dr Michael Mann’s emails and are now attempting a similar legal action at NASA to get Dr James Hansen’s emails.  
        Australian Libertarian Society*
        • No funding records.
        Business and Media Institute*
        Cascade Policy Institute*
        Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina 
        • No funding records. 
        Cathay Institute for Public Affairs
        • No funding records. 
        Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
        • According to a report by Think Progress, the Cornwall Alliance is a front group for the shadowy James Partnership. Both the James Partnership and the Cornwall Alliance are closely linked to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), an anti-environmental group that is “funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations,
        Energy Makes America Great Inc.
        • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
        Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
        • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
        • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
        Istitulo Bruno Leoni (Italy)
        • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
        International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
        Instituto Liberdade
        • No funding information. 
        Instituto de Libre Empresa
        • No funding information. 
        Institute for Liberty (IFL)
        • A Tea Party group in the United States founded by Andrew Langer, an ex-employee of the Competetive Enterprise Institute (CEI). 
        Liberaty Institute (India)
        • No funding information. 
        Lavoisier Group*
        Mannkal Economic Education Foundation
        • No funding information. 

        Wednesday, June 29, 2011

        Dan Vergano, USA Today: Science group [AAAS] decries attacks on climate scientists

        Science group decries attacks on climate scientists

        by Dan Vergano, USA Today, June 29, 2011

        Leaders of the nation's most prominent scientific organization on Wednesday condemned personal attacks on climate scientists

        In a statement, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chaired by Caltech's Alice Huang, decried the political attacks upon researchers that have become a hallmark of public discussion of climate science.
        "We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists. Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public. This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems," says the statement.
        In particular, the statement criticized recently-publicized wide-ranging Freedom of Information Act requests made for e-mail communications of researchers such as Penn State's Micheal Mann and NASA's James Hansen. "Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial," says the statement. "Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial."
        In response to a AAAS news release noting its involvement in such requests, the American Tradition Institute, a Washington, DC-based free-market advocacy organization [actually, a Koch-funded, extreme right-wing, faux think tank full of non-declared lobbyists that has its fellows write books so it can buy them up from amazon and wash the money back to them], released its own statement, noting that open records laws allow anyone to request public records of taxpayer-funded officials. "The notion that application of laws that expressly cover academics is an 'attack' on them is substantively identical to Hollywood apologists who call application of other laws to Roman Polanski an attack on Polanski. They lost the plot somewhere along the way," said ATI's Chistopher Horner, in the response. [that is a pretty sick comparison, wouldn't you say? just shows what kind of awful people they employ]
        Climate scientists have endured personal attacks as a result of their findings for more than a decade. In 2009, a hacker stole climate scientists' emails from a British lab, a brouhaha that concluded with investigations clearing them of wrongdoing but in some cases chiding them for lack of transparency. Mann and others faced a 2006 Congressional committee investigation centered on a George Mason University team report critical of climate scientists (that report team itself is now under investigation for plagiarism and other shortcomings [shortcomings that include entirely misrepresenting the works they cited, according to the original authors]). In 1995, a fossil-fuel-industry-funded group questioned the integrity of federal climate scientist Ben Santer [he was completely exonerated because it was totally trumped up, but it all caused all kinds of stresses in his personal life, but hey what do they care -- to this day Fred Singer still spouts the lies, and he knows full well they are lies, but he doesn't care so long as the fossil fuel industry keeps paying him to say them.].
        In a commentary on the political attacks on climate scientists and climate science, researcher Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., noted that personal attacks upon scientists -- covered in articles such as this one -- serve to divert public attention from the larger question of how society should respond to the already-evident and continuing increase in global temperatures that has occurred as a result of fossil fuel emissions adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Which may be their real purpose, he adds. "The fact that we are arguing over the science today means things are going to get a lot worse," Gleick says. "I worry things will get a lot worse before they get better."
        On that note, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today reported that monthly normal U.S. temperatures from 1981 to 2010 were 0.5 degrees higher than the 1971-2000 ones. The finding continues two decades of climate reality matching the general predictions of climate scientists.

        Cancel Lord Monckton's university lecture, say academics

        Cancel Lord Monckton's university lecture, say academics

        In an open letter to the University of Notre Dame, signatories say the climate sceptic stands for 'ignorance and superstition'
        Climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton
        The climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton should not be invited to lecture in universities, say academics. Photograph: Alan Porritt/EPA
        Academics in Australia are calling for the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle to cancel a lecture due to be given by the prominent climate sceptic Lord Monckton on Thursday.
        In a letter seen by the Guardian, which is currently being circulated among academics, the undersigned say that Monckton "stands for the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter" and "Notre Dame has a responsibility to avoid promoting discredited views on an issue of public risk." Signatories already supporting the open letter include professors and lecturers across Australia, but also academics in the UK and US.
        The letter, which is addressed "from the Australian academic community" to Notre Dame, a Catholic university in Western Australia, was originally drafted by Natalie Latter, a political science postgraduate student at theUniversity of Western Australia. The letter says Monckton's lecture is particularly unwelcome in light of recent death threats made against Australian climate scientists.
        "Lord Monckton propounds widely discredited fictions about climate change and misrepresents the research of countless scientists," says the letter. "With zero peer-reviewed publications, he has declared that the scientific enterprise is invalid and that climate science is fraudulent … Over the last month there has been a great deal of coverage in the Australian media of the death threats and abusive emails that have targeted Australian scientists working on climate change. These threats are fuelled by misinformation spread by figures like Lord Monckton and the distorted coverage that they receive in the Australian media. As academics, we expect our universities to support us against this kind of abuse. We expect our universities to foster academic standards of conduct and argument."
        The letter continues: "We all support academic freedom and the freedom to express our ideas and beliefs … [However] Notre Dame's invitation to Lord Monckton makes a mockery of academic standards and the pursuit of evidence-based knowledge."
        Monckton, the deputy leader of the UK Independence party, apologised over the weekend for remarks he made this month during a lecture in Los Angeles in which he likened Prof Ross Garnaut, a climate change adviser to the Australian government, to a Nazi, while showing a slide of a large swastika next to one of Garnaut's quotes. In online footage of the speech, Monckton can be heard saying in a mock German accent, "Heil Hitler, on we go" when referring to Garnaut.
        The comment drew criticism from across the Australian political spectrum last week. Julia Gillard, the prime minister, condemned the comments as "offensive and grossly inappropriate." Tony Abbott, the opposition leader who is fighting to stop the government's proposed carbon tax and who is scheduled to attend a mining conference in Perth at which Monckton is due to speak, described the comments as "over the top."
        During a television interview on Sunday, Monckton apologised to Garnaut "for having made the point I was trying to make in such a catastrophically stupid and offensive way." He added: "I have written to him to withdraw that unreservedly."
        It is not the first time Monckton has been criticised for making such remarks. In 2009, at the Copenhagen climate summit, he described a group of young climate activists as "Hitler youth."
        Monckton is scheduled to begin a three-week lecture tour of Australia
        on Thursday when he addresses the annual conference of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies in Perth. The organisers have
        confirmed that Monckton is still scheduled to speak, despite the
        controversy over his remarks. Later that day, he will deliver the Lang
        Hancock lecture at Notre Dame, a lecture series sponsored by Hancock
        , a mining company owned by Australia's richest person,
        Gina Rinehart.
        Chris Doepel, the university's dean of business, has confirmed some invited conference guests have also called for Monckton's speech to be cancelled, but he insisted the event will go ahead. "The university will hold it because we have a commitment to academic freedom," he told local media over the weekend. "I think Lord Monckton is coming into this country with a clear understanding of the boundaries around polite discussion." Doepel added that there is no plan to censor Monckton's presentation and that the 200-strong audience will be free to ask questions.
        Not all of Australia's academic community believes Monckton should be censored or barred from speaking, however. Prof Ian Chubb, Australia's chief scientist, told the Guardian: "I think that we have to put up with deplorable people if we value our democracy. And we do. So I couldn't argue that action should be taken, though I find his comments as outrageous as his abuse of science. I don't think making him some sort of victim would serve any purpose, other than to add to the weight of his wallet. There will always be people somewhere in the world who will pay to hear people like him; and enhancing his celebrity through censorship will encourage more of them to pay. He just needs to be exposed for what he is."
        Anna-Maria Arabia, the CEO of Science & Technology Australia, which recently organised the Respect the Science event in Canberra in which 200 scientists marched to show solidarity for climate scientists receiving death threats, also feels that Monckton should be free to speak: "Everyone is entitled to their views, but it is important that personal views are differentiated from the scientific evidence that has been through the rigorous peer-review process. The challenge for Lord Monckton is to have his ideas tested through the peer review process."
        She added: "The misinformation campaign designed to create fear and uncertainty will not intimidate climate scientists who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and know the importance of placing their results in the public domain so that fair and democratic debate can ensue. Critical decisions about making the world we live in a better and safer place must be informed by the best possible information we have, not by fear. The best possible information we have is the peer-reviewed science."
        After visiting Fremantle, Monckton is scheduled to speak at venues across Australia, including the German Club in Adelaide. Last week, Elke Pfau, the club's president said she was "looking into" the booking following Monckton's "unfortunate" remarks about Garnaut. In April, a private school near Brisbane cancelled a business event due to feature Monckton next month after the head teacher deemed his participation to be "too controversial."
        Monckton's lecture tour is being co-ordinated by the Climate Sceptics party, a political party set up in 2009 by an Australian farmer to "expose the fallacy of anthropogenic climate change."

        More than 50 Australian academics have signed a letter to Fremantle's Notre Dame University urging it to cancel a lecture by controversial British climate change sceptic and journalist Lord Christopher Monckton

        Academics want climate sceptic's lecture cancelled

        by Gareth Parker, The West Australian,June 30, 2011

        Academics want climate sceptic s lecture cancelled
               Monckton. Photo © Sandie Bertrand.

        More than 50 Australian academics have signed a letter to Fremantle's Notre Dame University urging it to cancel a lecture by controversial British climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton.
        Lord Monckton, who was this week forced to apologise to the Federal Government's chief climate change advisor Professor Ross Garnaut for likening him to a nazi, is set to deliver the Lang Hancock Lecture at Notre Dame tonight.
        His speech is sponsored by billionaire mining mogul Gina Rinehart, Mr Hancock's daughter.
        The letter, organised by University of Western Australia postgraduate student Natalie Latter, says the academics - which include UWA Professor Ullrich Ecker, Sydney's University of Technology Professor Cynthia Mitchell and Dr Iain White, from the University of Manchester - says the academics are "deeply disturbed" that Notre Dame intends to host the lecture.
        It accuses Lord Monckton of "propounding widely discredited fictions about climate change and misrepresenting the research of countless scientists."
        "With zero peer-reviewed scientific publications, he has declared that the scientific enterprise is invalid and that climate science is fraudulent," the letter says.
        "He stands for the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter."
        Notre Dame Business School Dean, Chris Doepel, said that while Lord Monckton's views had attracted attention, the university had been assured there would be nothing offensive in his presentation.
        Professor Doepel said the lecture's format would allow questions and he expected Lord Monckton to be "vigorously challenged."
        Curtin University Professor of Sustainability, Peter Newman -- a signatory to the letter -- said it was a disgrace any university associated itself with "someone who has clearly got no academic credibility."
        Another signatory, Australian Professorial Fellow at UWA's School of Psychology, Stephan Lewandowsky, said he strongly endorsed Lord Monckton's right to free speech "for example in a pub or on a soapbox or in a circus arena." [Good on ya, Stephan!]
        While Ms Rinehart's company Hancock Prospecting sponsored the lecture, titled The Climate of Freedom, it did not fund Lord Monckton's three-week Australian tour.
        South Australian farmer Leon Ashby, president of the Climate Sceptics Party, said his organisation had contributed $30,000 in donation to Lord Monckton's trip.
        Lord Monckton could not be contacted.