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Unforced variations: Feb 2014

Filed under: — group @ 4 February 2014

A little late starting this month’s open thread – must be the weather…

435 Responses to “Unforced variations: Feb 2014”

  1. 101
    Hank Roberts says:

    If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than comtempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology.
    We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.

    — Lyndon B. Johnson

  2. 102
    Hank Roberts says:

    By the way, for those buying LED lights from eBay or direct from China, this is cautionary:

    That’s not unusual at all, I’ve taken a few cheap LED lights apart and decided not to put them back together, lest someone get killed.

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Jakobshavn glacier

    Several previous RC topics over the years have focused on the
    Jakobshavn glacier
    — Paste that in the search box, upper right corner of each page.

  4. 104
    Andy says:

    I’m curious about Mike Mann’s Huffington Post article discussing the tropical Pacific’s thermostat phenomenon. He state’s it lowers the global average temperature increase by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C. Would that be the total reduction from 2000 to 2100, or would that be per Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation event?

  5. 105
    Dave Peters says:

    “A quadrillion here, a quadrillion there, and soon you will be talking real money.” Actually, that is a decade of $ flooding cost, in 2100, as per:

  6. 106
  7. 107
    Tom R says:

    I think everyone needs to make a better distinction between denialist and skeptics.

    The WattsUp crowd for example are full blown denialist (and bat-shit crazy IMO) most of which don’t even believe CO2 is a forcing.

    Then you have the skeptics who basically embrace the opaque nature of CO2 in the infrared and the conservation of energy. This group does have a range of views based on the degree of sensitivity. Most of the crew at Lucia’s Blackboard fall into this camp. I call this bunch the lukewarmers.

  8. 108
    Mark Zimmerman says:

    # 55 Frau Katze

    This is a good discussion of the cause of the California drought

  9. 109
    Walter says:

    #96 Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid.

    The text was copied/pasted direct from the source site. The snipped quote given by Rafael was by the ‘interviewer’ as an attention-getting headline and wasn’t by David Holmgren.

    re: Could a global (but partial) communist “dictatorship” help to solve the problem?

    China is making the greatest gains in alternative energy and nuclear energy use (total and % wise) than the rest of the world. It also includes longer term plans to stop their existing high volume fossil fuel use from ~mid-century. If others took it as seriously as they did, I suspect they could make even tougher goals to cut GHG emissions sooner. It would require a ‘level playing field’ be established economically world wide that is fair, just, and equitable to all people.

    Some thoughts on the left-right political dichotomy (in the US by way of example):

  10. 110
    David B. Benson says:
    raises many more questions that one would like answers for.

  11. 111

    Here is an unforced variation … or is it forced?

    One way to understand the strange oscillations of ENSO:

    climate science is way cool

  12. 112
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #109 Walter

    Thank you.
    My point is not actually related to the usual “left-right political dichotomy” …
    At individual level, in our free democracies, any obligation in relation with the use of the atmosphere (not owned by each of us, but by ALL, kind of “communist state” that needs “partial” dictatorship to be handled), would conflict with our freedom …
    So, it would be necessary a big change in our mind-set. Very, very difficult.
    And something similar happens at countriy level.
    “…It would require a ‘level playing field’ be established economically world wide that is fair, just, and equitable to all people”.
    I agree with that, but apart from very difficult to get, people would play as freely as possible … You can´t have a policeman/woman after each person.

  13. 113
    Hank Roberts says:

    > permaculture … crash

    The farmer I know best, who’s actually been developing crops to try to replace corn and soy in the real world, comments that permaculture so far doesn’t scale up well.

    We need to replace vast acreage used (destructively) for agriculture, for the whole world. Doing a partial job, withdrawing into little enclaves that are self-supporting, sounds like a lovely return to Medieval times. But with no one to protect them from the barbarian lords,

    I suspect separated, sustainable villages not involved with the surrounding world would work out even less well than it did last time.

    Yes, little microgrids can hold a village together in the absence of the national grid and transportation — for a while.

    I doubt if even the science-fantasy replicator-in-every-library will enable such little groups to maintain and defend themselves apart from the larger culture. Librarians are damn scarce, when you actually need one, have you noticed?

  14. 114

    Already a fair number of comments on UK floods. Any chance of an authoritative article on how the UK floods fit climate models? I know in general terms that the hydrological cycle should intensify with warming and that one event is hard to pin on climate change, but it would be good to do a catch up on how the broad trend of extreme weather fits the models.

  15. 115
    JCH says:

    Philip – Judith Curry promises an article on the British floods soon. They have had major floods in the past, so possibly that will be badly mangled – as was done on blogs with the Wivenhoe Dam incident in Australia in 2011. They had it ranked very low versus Australian flood history when it was in fact one of the worst floods in the record. I have no idea where the current flooding in Great Britain ranks, but mitigation work has to be in the analysis or the analysis is totally botched.

  16. 116
    Eric Swanson says:

    For another look at the workings of the denialist mind, here’s a takedown of Roy Spencer’s recent outpourings:

    Roy Spencer’s latest deceit and deception

    Reminds me of his Senate testimony last July, in which he used the UAH Middle Troposphere (MT) product to claim that there’s no warming at high altitude over the tropics. But, didn’t Spencer claim that the MT product was contaminated with cooling from the Stratosphere as the reason to switch to the UAH Lower Troposphere product when he and John Christy introduced the LT back in 1992?

  17. 117
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Feb 2014 @ 7:51 AM

    I think that the Rodale Institute study points the way that agriculture has to go.


  18. 118
    wili says:

    Thanks for the link to that interesting farm, hank. I notice that it is featured as one of the “wonderful farms” in this article:

    That approach is definitely a promising part of a potentially sustainable future. But I don’t think it is necessary to tear down other people’s approaches to make a point about how good one approach is. None of us knows what the future holds, but the more of us helping to produce at least our own food, the better for us all.

    Keep in mind that still much of the world supplies most of its food locally in “small enclaves” if you will. Medieval monastic “enclaves” were crucial in preserving the fragments of classical civilization that did get preserved, even in a very violent world. We are all doing ‘partial jobs’ no matter how grand our plans may be.

  19. 119
    Dave Peters says:

    Philip–This write-up by the Met Office seems quite well put together, first describing the storm sequence in a historical context, and then placing them within the setting of the extraordinary global/Pacific/tropical doings we all witness unfold.

  20. 120
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “permaculture so far doesn’t scale up well”

    Well, that’s kind of the whole point of permaculture. It isn’t about “scaling up” to continent-wide fields of genetically identical monocrops. It’s about agriculture that works with biodiversity and natural ecosystems rather than against them.

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Doing a partial job, withdrawing into little enclaves that are self-supporting, sounds like a lovely return to Medieval times … I suspect separated, sustainable villages not involved with the surrounding world would work out even less well than it did last time.”

    There are villages in China that have successfully sustained themselves for thousands of years, without any of the modern scientific knowledge that would be available to self-reliant communities today.

    Self-reliance and even self-sufficiency in food production do NOT mean “withdrawing from involvement in the surrounding world”. On the contrary, they can contribute to the sustainability of the “surrounding world”. During WWII, Victory Gardens produced as much as 40 percent of all the produce consumed in the USA.

    Hank Roberts wrote: “little microgrids can hold a village together in the absence of the national grid and transportation”

    “Little microgrids” with distributed generation are expected to be a $13-billion-per year business within a few years.

    Microgrids powered by photovoltaics and/or wind turbines are bringing electricity to communities in the developing world who will never get it any other way, because they have no “national grid”.

    And in the USA, microgrids are being deployed by corporations and the military, and can help hold the grid together.

    Indeed the whole concept of the “smart grid” is that it will an “InterGrid”, which connects a multitude of intelligent micro-grids which will be both consumers and producers of electricity.

  21. 121
    patrick says:

    Tamino: “The Real Difference between Skeptics and Deniers”:

  22. 122
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2014 @ 3:07 PM

    The LED video is a good caution. I use a lot of them. More important was another video that was popped up by YouTube, titled The Light Bulb Conspiracy. Thinking there might be a chuckle in the video I watched it and found a very well done and informative documentary on planned obsolescence that has direct application to discussions here on how to reduce fossil carbon pollution.


  23. 123
    prokaryotes says:

    A small overview on exceptional UK floods in recent years. Flooding in the UK

  24. 124
    Radge Havers says:

    Climate on the Diane Rehm Show:

    With Gavin Schmidt!


  25. 125
  26. 126
    sidd says:



    point out that isotopic composition of airborne methane has become lighter since 2008, indicating greater wetland/ruminant emission. I imagine if and when arctic methane doom nears, we ought to see a swing the other way ?


  27. 127
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “By the way, for those buying LED lights from eBay or direct from China …”

    Why would anybody do such a thing when you can buy beautiful, high-quality, made-in-the-USA, Cree 9.5 watt / 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs with a 10-year warranty and 25,000 life expectancy at Home Depot for five bucks?

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    > permaculture. It isn’t about “scaling up”

    Let’s not have one of our famous arguments, shall we?
    And just agree to disagree with very few words said about it?

    Mine, 1 line: agriculture must be a carbon sink; we can, we must do it.

  29. 129
  30. 130
    MARodger says:

    A 29-page Met Office report The Recent Storms & Floods in the UK.
    My own analysis for my neck-of-the-woods (slightly less definite due to the data from the local weather station having stalled in May 2013 – probably due to spending cuts) – February saw record rainfall, 38% above the previous 55-year February maximum and 3.35sd above the February mean. As I informed my local paper, I reckon that makes it a 1-in-2000 year event – either that or the produce of climate change.

  31. 131
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Cite for Secular Animist …”

    My favorite thing from there:

    “If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things.”
    – Pete Seeger

    Hank Roberts wrote: “And just agree to disagree with very few words said about it? … agriculture must be a carbon sink; we can, we must do it.”

    Well, sir, I can’t agree to disagree about that, because I agree with it.

    I’ve been saying for a long time in various comments here that organic agriculture can help to draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of atmospheric CO2 by sequestering carbon in soils and biomass — as the 30-year Rodale Farming Systems Trial (cited by Steve Fish above) has demonstrated.

  32. 132
    Hank Roberts says:

    > for five bucks
    Where? Link? Prices, with rebates, vary state by state.

  33. 133
    David B. Benson says:

    WebHubTelescope @111:

    Variability of El Niño/Southern Oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch

  34. 134
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS re China, equally cautionary about little stuff and big stuff like solar photovoltaic gear:
    I’ve bought enough little electronics, LEDs and flashlight bits and pieces in recent years to believe this guy’s description.

  35. 135
    Walter says:

    #113 Hank Roberts says: “> permaculture … crash”

    That is quite a distinctive passive aggressive streak on display.

    Passive-aggression is frustrating to its targets, since it’s not as easily identifiable—or unacceptable—as, say, socking someone in the jaw would be. For their part, passive-aggressive types can learn to express their anger in healthier ways, and stop sneaking around.

    This may be a science site to discuss science topics. This doesn’t change the fact that the site is well stocked with people where human behaviors of all kinds arise that curtail genuine mature open-minded emotionally honest and fruitful discussions. Plus the simple sharing of information with others.

    Here’s some science about that:
    In The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, (and discussion forums) 2nd ed., passive aggression is defined as a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger (Long, Long & Whitson, 2008).

    A well worn saying goes: “Say what you Mean. Mean what you say. And don’t say it Mean.”


  36. 136
    Walter says:

    #132 Hank Roberts says:
    > for five bucks – Where? Link?

    As SA said already @ Home Depot

    $4.97 WAS 12.97 Save 62%
    Cree 60W Equivalent Soft White (2700K) A19…


  37. 137
    Hank Roberts says:

    Walter, what you see at those links depends on your ZIP code.
    Those prices are based on local gov’t and utility rebates. This is normal.

    I see — at the link you gave — six for $77.82, and down below that a little window showing a single-lamp $4.92 price at the bottom — and when I click that one, the price changes for quantity one is $12.97.

    Others will see different results. Looking through a computer isn’t like looking through something unbiased and transparent.

  38. 138
    Hank Roberts says:

    A clue to that kind of pricing — “in store only …. pick up” items.

  39. 139
    Walter says:

    Hank, you asked the question. You got THE answer. Plain and simple.

    If you had constraints involved then you should have listed them yourself at the get go. That you don’t like the answer, does not make it wrong. Ask better questions.

    btw Hank, I know how to ‘shop’ and use the internet to buy ‘stuff’. On my monitor looks like the discount no longer applies. The early bird gets the worm. Have you checked Ebay? Bargains galore! Free home delivery too.

    What SecularAnimist said true and correct. It was also sage advice to consider into the future. But this ain’t the shopping channel twitter page, so I will move along now.


  40. 140
    barry says:

    Anyone remember Charles Monnett, the bow whale researcher who published a monograph on dead polar bears?

    He was grilled on his study by agents of the DoI Inspector General’s office and was later cleared of scientific misconduct. By then the investigation changed tack to alleging he had mishandled contracts, which was also cleared. Eventually he was given a reprimand by his department for emailing his concern that environmental checks on a drilling proposal hadn’t been properly carried out. He attempted to sue the department under whistleblower provisions, finally settling on a payout, and has retired from the department due to its lack of support and integrity to science.

    You can read the conclusion of the shameful events here and trace back through the saga.

    This story should be widely publicised. The DoI has successfully muzzled the researchers and swept it under the rug. As far as I am aware, PEER is the only place where developments have been made public after the initial flurry of interest a few years ago.

  41. 141
    Steve Fish says:

    Walter opines about the passive aggressive behavior of other commenters.


  42. 142
    SecularAnimist says:

    Re: LED bulbs.

    My point was just that high-quality, made-in-the-USA, name-brand LEDs with warranties are readily available at mass-market retailers, both in-store and online, commonly for less than $10 each.

    For best prices, as with anything else, shop around — look for sales, quantity discounts, etc.

  43. 143

    #140–Barry, thanks for drawing our attention to the conclusion of this shameful episode. I’ve written about it here:

    I’ve also included ‘your’ information in a quick update.

  44. 144
    Hank Roberts says:

    Interesting tidbits turned up — we know concrete contributes a lot of anthropogenic CO2. What I found looking around is that much of that is badly made, so buildings aren’t expected to last long in normal use, and collapses are astonishingly common.

    This is an area where doing it right — so it lasts — could cut the CO2 produced by half, compared to doing it wrong and tearing it down and doing it again in two or three decades.

    … the local materials and methods that they use will all but guarantee that any new structures will fail again, in the next disaster. Cement Trust wants to provide tools to Charities to help them overcome the low quality of materials and low skills of local labor (the poor concrete supply chain)….

  45. 145

    JCH: I was in Brisbane in 2011, and it was one of the biggest floods in a long time even with mitigation. If I recall rightly, the flood level was within a metre of the last big flood before the flood-containment Wivenhoe Dam was completed in the 1980s.

    Disasters in different eras are hard to compare for a number of reasons – not just mitigation, but we have better weather prediction and emergency responses. On the negative side, more people.

    SecularAnimist: it depends where you are putting LEDs whether you get a quick payback. If you have lights that are on 10 hours + per day, it‘s a lot different than a light you occasionally switch on. A calculated that a floodlight lighting up a building would recover its cost in a few months, if you switched from incandescent to LED.

    Wattage can be deceptive (even lumens). I have 3 x 2W units in a smallish bedroom and they light it up pretty well. In another slightly bigger room, I have 5 x 2W units and the room is really brightly lit. Since LEDs are directional their lighting effect depends a lot on how they are packaged. Downlights are terrible no matter what the technology because of their narrow beam. You need an absurd number to light up a whole room.

  46. 146
  47. 147
    Walter says:

    #141 Steve Fish says:
    “Walter opines about the passive aggressive behavior of other commenters. Steve”

    Yeah? I made a comment about one, with supporting scientific based information for the wiser. Maybe he has issues with permaculture and long haired hippies? I don’t know for certain, nor to any confidence level. Don’t care either.

    Check the 10 point list Steve. Much to learn from the science of modern psychology. Might be two in these parts who could learn something new about themselves. Make your own choices. Everyone’s behavior has consequences. I am 100% certain about that. No exceptions.


  48. 148
    Walter says:

    # 144 Hank Roberts says:
    “we know concrete contributes a lot of anthropogenic CO2.”

    Look here: “ CO2 and the Global Carbon Cycle – The amount of fossil fuel CO2 emitted to the atmosphere [..] Total cumulative emissions between 1750 and 2011 amount to 365 ± 30 PgC, including a contribution of 8 PgC from the production of cement.”

    8 PgC is a ‘lot’ of CO2 in a total sense. 2.19% of 365 PgC is not.

    Look here: “ CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion and Cement Production – CO2 emissions from cement production were 4% of the total emissions during 2000–2009, compared to 3% in the 1990s (Boden et al., 2011).”

    Maybe there is a better word to describe things scientifically and effectively and much more accurately than ‘a lot’?

    Ref: IPCC AR5 WGI Technical Summary 2216 pages – (file name: 2013-09-30 WGIAR5_WGI-12Doc2b_FinalDraft_All)

    Side-bar: When Google Was Not an Obsession, Content & Conversion Were Likely Better “If you can relate to this dilemma, it might also be time for you to go back to your roots.”


  49. 149
  50. 150
    Mal Adapted says:

    Rafael Molina Navas

    ATMOSPHERE is intrinsically a communist “estate”: no private property possible.

    If only each of us could own its private part of the atmosphere! We would not spoil it as we do. Could a global (but partial) communist “dictatorship” help to solve the problem? Not foreseeable.

    In the terms of the Economist’s art, the atmosphere is a commons. There is a large and growing body of work on approaches to managing global commons. While “commons” shares a root with Se&#241or Molina Navas’s word, not once do “communist” or “communism” appear in the linked document. Garrett Hardin, who coined the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” proposed “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon” as the only feasible solution. The Devil, as they say, is in the details.