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Unforced Variations: March 2017

Filed under: — group @ 3 March 2017

This month’s open thread.

343 Responses to “Unforced Variations: March 2017”

  1. 1
    MA Rodger says:

    Another month begins and last month’s ‘UnVaried Forcation of Thomas’ figures are now in.
    February’s Unforced Variations thread comprised 257 comments (up on January’s 194 comments) of which 50 comments were “Thomas says” (down on the 60 “Thomas says” comments in January) which yields a ‘Thomas Comment Ratio’ of 19% of comments (also down on January’s 31% ThCR but still above the 16% ThCR in December). There were significant variations in this percentage through February, with the ‘Thomas Comment Ratio’ falling to 8% following the publication of last month’s ‘UVFoTh’ figures but in recent days it has been hitting a new high of 40%.
    The February thread contains 40,000 words (well up on the 26.500 words in January but below the 58,000 of December) of which 9,750 were “Thomas says” (a little above January’s 9,000) which gives a ‘Thomas Word Ratio’ of 24% of the total thread word-count (down on Januray’s 34% but still above the 21% in December). The ThWR also varied greatly through the month and has been running at 50% in recent days.

  2. 2
    Dan says:

    re: 1.
    Definitely an anthropogenic forcing. ;-)

  3. 3

    I thought I had RCMs under control, but I’m having a hell of a time with Venus. Can’t get surface temperature over 389 K, which is ridiculous. I’ve got six absorbing gases, detailed H2SO4 clouds, low surface emissivity… nothing works. If there’s a trick to this I’m not getting it. Any help would be appreciated.

  4. 4
    mike says:

    Daily CO2

    March 2, 2017: 406.12 ppm
    March 2, 2016: 406.46 ppm

    inverted numbers for March 2nd! Wouldn’t it be lovely to see months of that kind of thing? That is what we need to see.

    Warm regards,


  5. 5
    Johnno says:

    Recent heatwaves in Australia are showing up the limitations of renewable energy. Grid demand can double in affected areas. Wind power may produce just 2% of its nameplate output. While 25% of homes in some postcodes have rooftop PV it is thought about 80% use air conditioning. As the heat lingers after 6 pm many of those solar homes will use grid electricity to keep air conditioners going. Utilities have been forced to load shed or turn on generators they claim are uneconomic to run.

    This turmoil is happening with temperatures in the range 40-47C. You have to think the problems will get worse in future summers.

  6. 6
    Thomas says:

    Published on 3 Mar 2017

    Climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf talks about his research on global sea level rise, the role of plantary waves in the atmosphere in relation to extreme weather events and the weakening of the Gulf Stream System in the North Atlantic. An Earth101 interview.

  7. 7
    Thomas says:

    The Cent­re for Di­gi­tal Cul­tu­res (CDC)/Leu­pha­na Uni­ver­si­ty Lüne­burg
    Media, Communications, Theory, Economics, Markets ….

  8. 8
    Eric Swanson says:

    It looks like the Trump administration is starting to get serious about killing climate science:

    White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency

    “NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent, of the funds it has under the current budget. Its satellite data division would lose $513 million, or 22 percent, of its current funding under the proposal.”

    “The biggest single cut proposed by the passback document comes from NOAA’s satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, which includes a key repository of climate and environmental information, the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers there were behind a study suggesting that there has been no recent slowdown in the rate of climate change — research that drew the ire of Republicans in Congress.”

  9. 9
    NS Alito says:

    @mike Thanks for that. I’m on the hunt for any counter-Trumpian news.

    @Johnno Much of Australia was on the hot side of human habitation before the heat began to ratchet up. Is it too much to hope that Tesla PowerWalls can keep up? On the plus side, wind and solar aren’t water-dependent.

  10. 10
    Thomas says:

    Concerned about the success of climate science denial in the minds of the populace? Science literacy of the masses is neither the cause nor the solution to understanding climate science implications and agw/cc solutions.

    “The Global Restructuring of Science as a Marketplace of Ideas” Philip Mirowski Trust in Science workshop Toronto, Ontario October 15-16 2007 Really worth viewing imo.
    Do Scientists less and less trust each other? What else was going on a decade ago and what is the situation today? eg “Democracy is a threat to the operation of the Market.” – “Economics has always been at war with itself.”

    Philip Mirowski What is Neoliberalism in 5 minutes?
    What is Neoliberalism 3 minute theory
    Neoliberalism explained 4 mins
    Naomi Klein on Global Neoliberalism
    Noam Chomsky – Neoliberalism 1997

    Every Law and Regulation was created to protect some one or some thing. Over time it is sensible to review these are still applicable. Things change.

    But to repeal Regulations unilaterally is to unilaterally remove important Protections of Society and/or the Environment and future generations.

  11. 11
    Don Neidig says:

    Re: No. 3. A quick and (not so) dirty estimate for getting the surface temperature of Venus: The temperature
    at the height of the tau=1 level (about 60 km) will be close to the equilibrium temperature (240 K). Then
    take the adiabatic gradient for dry CO2 (about 9 K/km) and extrapolate temperature down to the surface.
    Obtain 780 K.

  12. 12
    Omega Centauri says:

    BPL @3
    May I ask if you have included aerosols? You probably crudely did, with respect to incoming shortwave, but they also impede outgoing IR, increasing the IR opacity. Also high pressure causes pressure broadening of some spectral lines, which could effectively increase opacity.

  13. 13
    Scott Nudds says:

    Has Arctic ice extent already reached it’s peak?

  14. 14
    MA Rodger says:

    RSS has also posted for February (RSS browser tool here which covers much more than TLT) with an anomaly of +0.44ºC, a small increase on January (+0.41ºC) mirroring the rise shown in UAHv6b5. This is the 5th warmest February on the RSS record after 2016, 1998, 2010 & 2002 (4th warmest on UAHv6b5) and the 37th warmest month within the full record (33rd warmest within UAHv65b).
    After a whole two months, it is probably not premature to note that in both RSS (at +0.425ºC) & UAHv6b5 (at +0.325ºC), 2017 is so-far running warmer than all but three previous calendar years (2016, 1998, 2010 – all of them El Nino years) and well ahead of fourth-place 2015 (RSS +0.384ºC, UAHv6b5 +0.261ºC). I reckon that makes it at least a ”scorchio!!!”

  15. 15
    zebra says:

    Johnno #5,

    “limitations of renewable energy”

    No, it shows the limitations of poorly designed buildings.

    If you want to keep your house cool after the sun goes down at 6PM, but you have this virtually unlimited energy source before 6PM, you insulate your house and store the coolth in some kind of thermal mass.

    I don’t know the geology of the locations in question, but an insulated concrete floor slab/foundation in my area maintains a temperature of about 55F during heat waves over 95F. That’s passively.

    You don’t need no stinkin’ TeslaWalls, or whatever, even if you aren’t designing a new building. A basement with some water tanks and simple plumbing would do nicely.

  16. 16
    Omega Centauri says:

    Jonno @5.
    There is a type of AC called an ice bear. Essentially when power is cheap it makes ice, which can then be melted to allow cooling during times when power is expensive and you need cooling. Essentially you precool the ice reservoir, and tap the cool as needed. Its one way to smooth out the supply/demand curve. Also PG&E (California) has a contract for 2GW from solar reserve, which stores heat energy in the form of molten salt, and has ten hours worth of storage. Its not built yet, but the power purchase agreement is for $.11(US) per kilowatt hour (about double the price of power from photovoltaics).

  17. 17
    mike says:

    Daily CO2 per

    March 3, 2017: 407.52 ppm
    March 3, 2016: 404.22 ppm

    Couple of spikey days in March 2016 at 406 retreat and we see the more regular trend of 3 plus ppm increase reappear.

    This is the ball game. This number has to come down or lots of us earthlings are going to succumb to impact of global warming that follows increase in atmospheric CO2.

    It ain’t rocket science.

    Warm regards


  18. 18
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @15, I agree passive solar makes a lot of sense. I used to be involved in the building industry doing consulting work, and came across this concept. These are the key points for a very simple type of passive solar home for the benefit of anyone interested:

    Have lots of glazing facing the sun, particularly the midday sun and afternoon This maximises heat gain in winter. So choice of section and building orientation is important.

    Have thermal mass (as you pointed out) that is exposed to sun coming in the windows, as this absorbs heat energy and keeps the house warm at night. Simple tiled concrete slabs work well. More sophisticated designs use special types of wall mass.

    Plenty of insulation and heavy curtains etc, to reduce heat loss.

    Have external awnings or louvres so that you can control excessive heat gain in summer. Internal blinds are useless, as once the heat gets through the glazing its trapped in the room.

    This doesn’t cost that much, and is often just a question of good planning. It can dramatically reduce heating and cooling costs.

    With a warming climate all this stuff becomes particularly relevant.

  19. 19
    zebra says:


    A minor nitpick (it’s me after all) and an elaboration about the design I mentioned.

    Nitpick: Internal blinds do reflect visible light, which is energy that will bounce around the room and turn into heat. Of course external ones are much better– I have been meaning to install some in a couple of locations, but it gets expensive to have ones that are convenient to operate with my windows.

    I think cooling is actually going to be the big issue rather than heating in the future, and the slab-on-grade with ground-surface insulation works really well. It is thermodynamicaly coupled to the “isotherm” about six feet below the surface so here it maintains 55F in summer and 45F in winter. Also, you mentioned wall mass. People often fail to realize that just using 5/8″ gypsum board rather than 1/2″ adds a whole lot of mass– 25%, of course– as well as other benefits. It adds a trivial amount to the cost of the building.

    Anyway, it’s an uphill battle; without extensive regulation they just keep putting up the same shoddy and inefficient structures as part of the mass market.

  20. 20

    OC 12,

    Yes, thanks. I have no good figures for scattering coefficients in the IR for the cloud particles, however. I found absorption coefficients, but they are so high that the listed single-scattering albedo implies scattering coefficients too high to be believed. I don’t know, maybe I should use them anyway… Does anyone here know?

    Ex. One source gives k(abs) = 400 m2 kg-1 for the Venus clouds in the IR. If the single scattering albedo is ω = 0.9997, as I have also seen, that implies a scattering coefficient of k(sca) = 1.333 million m2 kg-1, which is something I’ve never seen before. I’ve also looked for just plain extinction coefficients, since k(ext) = k(abs) + k(sca), but no one seems to list that.

    There should also be Rayleigh scattering in the IR by the gases, at least low down, since the pressure and temperature is so high.

  21. 21

    On passive solar thermal–don’t forget, also, the Trombe’ wall. This is just a bunch of water barrels, or even a wall, behind a big, south-facing window. The window has a curtain–black on one side, silver on the other. In winter, keep the curtain open, black side out. Let the barrels/wall soak up sun during the day, close the curtain at night to keep the heat in. In summer, keep the curtain closed, silver-side out, during the day, while the barrels soak up heat from the house. At night, open the curtain and let them radiate heat outside. Cheap and effective.

  22. 22
    Thomas says:

    5 Johnno drinks the Koolaid and pronounces a list of false beliefs in his “Recent heatwaves in Australia are….” missive.
    Meanwhile Displacement gets the better of 9 NS Alito, 15 zebra16, Omega Centauri, 18 nigelj by missing the point and going off on tangents.

    Unpacking the false claims, illogical conclusions, and flawed assumptions by 5 Johnno and putting them back into reality and the truth of it:

    1) “This turmoil is happening with temperatures in the range 40-47C”
    Yes the real issue is ongoing AGW causing unprecedented heat waves / climate changes in SA.

    Heat waves and massive storms caused the power outages in SA. Not the use of renewable energy supply nor the size of it’s deployment in one geographical area called South Australia.

    2) These very high temperatures are causing unprecedented high intensity electricity demand from a Grid system not designed to handle such high demand spikes.

    3) 25 years ago the whole nation’s electricity production and delivery grid was State Owned, Funded and Operated.

    4) Neoliberal ideology took over insisting that these State Assets be privatised. State Govts also wanted out of the “responsibility” for a 90% carbon based electricity supply system as the facts about AGW/CC became more apparent. aka the “Pontius Pilot Effect”.

    5) Despite the fact that the SA State Govt do NOT own or operate the SA electricity system has not stopped Neoliberal talking heads in Federal Govt and elsewhere from blaming it for the catastrophic failures of the Electricity Grid, very low plant maintenance investment, and decisions of the (private/quango) national electricity market operator (AEMO).

    6) Federal and State Government set up the AEMO to ‘capitalise’ on national energy capacity by creating a new national Grid system across State borders. This enabled the mothballing of old carbon intensive power stations and Australia being able to meet it’s Kyoto emissions Targets. Everyone was happy.

    eg A two way electricity inter-connector was built across Bass Straight so Tasmania did not need to build a new coal fired power station and excess Hydro electricity could supply Victorians and reduce their brown coal fired power stations production. Everyone was happy. Until the inter-connector failed leading to black outs in Tasmania.

    eg Two inter-connectors were built from NSW/VIC coal fired power grids into South Australia to supplement it’s renewable supply and the impending closure of two coal fired power stations.

    Again a win-win-win. Less carbon intensity emissions across the board, no need to build a new coal/gas fired power station in SA, and the supply of renewable energy back into NSW/VIC meaning again less Carbon Intensity and achieving national emissions reduction goals.

    That was the theory, however the State / National Grid systems and the electricity generators have been Privatised so are not under the control of Government nor the AEMO either.

    7) But when maximising profit private enterprise gets involved in Public Goods like electricity supply where BAD Laws and Regulations get passed in parliaments then bad things happen eg

    8) Neoliberal ideology has also impacted Gas Supply in Oz, where CSG Fracking Companies are shipping their LNG overseas for higher prices. In the process breaking Supply Agreements with SA’s Gas fired electricity generator cutting it’s supply by over 50% for years ahead, meaning that it cannot be brought online at maximum capacity at any time, ever!

    8.1 Unlike the USA which places national interest ahead of export profits of resources companies, the Oz Federal Govt has been refusing for YEARS to develop a national gas energy regime/policy that puts the national interest first for the use of the people’s natural resources. Neoliberalism writ large = private profit before the people.

    8.2 Oz has enough LNG resources to be able to switch the majority of transportation vehicles from Oil over to Natural Gas and still supply electricity power stations demand. Instead we are shipping it off to Japan and other rich nations and corporations.

    9) air conditioning. As the heat lingers after 6 pm many of those solar homes will use grid electricity to keep air conditioners going.

    Increased use of air-conditioning is a result of two things. Increased household income (deployment) and increased temperatures from AGW and Climate Change. The household power source is besides the point.

    Anecdotes about solar panels and storage don’t cut it, the hard facts are in the Grid Demand Data numbers. Heat waves create massive high demand on electricity supply no matter what kind of supply source it is from.

    10) One of the primary goals of a national grid (and AEMO) was to close unnecessary coal fired power stations and thereby permanently reduce carbon emissions.

    11) Meanwhile the Federal Govt and the State Governments have totally lost control of the Public Good known as electricity energy supply to end users – business and residential.

    As a result the SA Govt is moving via legislation to retake control of there electricity system which may include a re-nationalisation of Assets only recently sold to private enterprise ie overseas Corporations.

    What’s caused the blackouts is a mindless mythical ideology in Neoliberalism; selling off of state owned assets without due consideration of the implications, Govt relinquishing it’s power and control over a critical Public Good in a rush to off-load that direct Responsibility to the People, a poorly designed and dysfunctional National Grid system and AEMO running it whose attention is placed upon short-term problems and profit gain over long-term intelligent forethought and rational planning methodologies to meet the current and future needs of Australia’s collective National Best Interests.

    Oh, if only complex interconnected reality could be reduced to the size of a tweet or a short blah blah blah throw-away comment absent true facts and the whole truth. (smile)

  23. 23
    Thomas says:

    quick reference graphs

    13 Scott Nudds Has Arctic ice extent already reached it’s peak?

    It’s looking that way at the moment. Not a good sign for the rest of the year. The Antarctic is looking well below the mean avg minimum as well. CO2 ppm remains high. Global GHG emissions continue to rise. Native forest removal continues unabated. Climate science & energy use fake news and disinformation is at an all time high across the media and from the mouths of national leaders and think tanks. AGW/CC issues are not yet a priority for the world.

    Situation normal.

  24. 24
    Thomas says:

    News story that is by default related to the successful marketing of Climate science denial memes in general. I noted this important example about Cambridge Analytica last month.

    In the UK The ICO spokeswoman confirmed that it had approached Cambridge Analytica over its apparent use of data following the story in the Observer. “We have concerns about Cambridge Analytica’s reported use of personal data and we are in contact with the organisation,” she said.

    The company, which has offices in London, New York and Washington, uses data analysis to build up sophisticated profiles of individuals to predict how they might vote. Reportedly part-owned by US billionaire Robert Mercer, it claims to have played an influential role in the US election, using its data-crunching ability to identify key swing voters.

    Probably nothing much will come of this investigation. FOIA Laws do not apply to private corporations and pseudo think tanks.

  25. 25
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    18 – “This maximises heat gain in winter. So choice of section and building orientation is important.”

    Which communities are zoning with these requirements in mind?

    Press them.

  26. 26
    Johnno says:

    Thx for all the advice on keeping cool. As it happens I have a bunker for extreme heat conditions like those faced by the outback miners
    I suggest some of the ideas suggested won’t be enough to avoid air conditioning in already built conventional homes on a day which dawns at 25C/77C and gets to 45C/113F by 5 pm. This is why grid power demand is doubling in heatwaves in Australia with about 85% of that electricity supplied by burning coal and gas.
    The Powerwall suggestion might appeal more if the battery could pay for itself before it needs replacing. We power aircons with coal power via the grid because it’s cheap and effective until the occasional blackout. I expect the problem to get worse year by year.

  27. 27

    Dude, where’s my post?

  28. 28

    The Karl et al brouhaha was, as I said at the time, a preliminary salvo. Here’s the actual salvo:

    “I’m not a climate scientist–but I defunded one on the Hill.”

  29. 29
    mike says:

    Last Week

    Feb. 26 – Mar. 4, 2017 407.37 ppm
    Feb. 26 – Mar. 4, 2016 404.08 ppm

    3.29 ppm over same week last year. I have sense that this 3 plus ppm increase is the current annual increase trend. Going the wrong direction. Picking up speed. Melting permafrost is no doubt an increasing source of atmospheric CO2 due to global warming.

    Can you say feedback loop? I knew you could.

    Warm regards


  30. 30
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @19, yes I over simplified the internal blinds comment. I was really just trying to say there are better ways.

    Good internal blinds do reflect up to about 50% of the light back through the window, but my understanding is any heat absorbed by the blind cant radiate back through the glass, so exterior awnings or the like are ideal. As you say this may be difficult with some window designs.

    Thicker or multi layered gypsum wall boards are a good thought. However they would need to be painted dark, if you want to use the thermal mass to absorb heat.

    The trombe wall mentioned by BPL is absolutely ideal as a heating mechanism, but can get expensive, and is beyond the simple passive home I was describing.

    I suppose it depends on local climate, and whether you want a passive solar home primarily for heating purposes, (to absorb heat to re-radiate this at night,) or achieve more of a cooling affect, or to juggle both.

    Our building code already requires a certain level of thermal insulation for health and energy efficiency and to prevent dampness. This is a good thing, and in the commonsense category of policy, in my opinion.

    I’m not sure how far you should extend this to a full passive solar design because it could push up house costs. I’m generally a supporter of regulations if they are fundamentally sensible, but I’m trying to see the issue from different angles. However having some rules on area and orientation of glazing might be a reasonable step.

    What people do with floors and walls might be best left up to them. Many homes these days have concrete slab floors anyway. How they are finished and covered should probably be the owners choice and it wont go down well telling owvers whether they should have carpet or not.

    Likewise I don’t think building codes can force people to incorporate high thermal efficiency blinds. But they could be encouraged, or the price could be subsidised.

  31. 31
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @22, you talk about the neoliberal agenda in Australia, electricity privatisation, and the consequent problems of an unrestricted profit motive damaging the public good, and leading to possibly insufficient electricity supply for difficult periods.

    We experienced similar things in NZ. The state owned electricity system actually performed very well, with low and stable prices. It was largely privatised, purely for ideological reasons, and a belief markets would make it better etc, etc, everyone knows the dogma relating to such matters.

    However the privatised system has experienced increasing electricity prices, and insufficient supply for dry years. It was left largely unregulated, which simply didn’t work.

    These failures led to re-regulation by government, and a requirement to ensure adequate capacity for very dry years (too complex to go into this here).

    I tend to believe NZ is too small for a privatised fragmented electricity system. In a nutshell we have a very contrived system of small generator companies competing, but they are just so small in global terms it’s debatable whether it makes sense.

    Electricity supply also has many of the features of a natural monopoly, and intuitively makes sense as one big integrated system. Such things are sometimes best owned by the state.

    However I don’t think government’s absolutely have to own utilities. A privatised competitive market is probably ok in larger countries. And we need to understand that government ownership can develop some problems of it’s own, for example if you get an irresponsible and lazy government.

    However a privatised electricity system, whether a monopoly, or multiple companies, must be quite strongly regulated by government, and forced to provide adequate generation. The profit motive is such that there’s too much temptation to under supply generation, and take general risks of this kind. There’s also significant risks of profiteering in this industry, given electricity is an essential commodity and we have seen all of these things happen in NZ. So governments should simply face these simple facts, and regulate the industry accordingly.

    Regarding climate change and renewable generation, this is a separate issue and it’s a moot point whether state owned electricity would inevitably resolve this. It would depend on the ideology of the particular government and also voter sentiment. However the private sector certainly hasn’t resoled the issue through market forces. In NZ we have therefore implemented an emissions trading scheme that effectively pushes the private generators to consider renewable energy, and quite a lot of wind power has been installed. The same result could have been achieved, perhaps more simply, with regulatory requirements to provide renewable energy.

    However the real underlying issue is not so much state ownership or private ownership.(although I do believe states ownership is sometimes essential).

    It’s more the attitude of governments and society in terms of whether they are captured by beliefs in unrestrained capitalism, or are captured by lobby groups, or whether a more moderate and sensible ideology dominates. Both state ownership and private ownership can work, but will only work in all our interests and fairly if government and society has a sensible attitude to how economies are managed, that avoids blind faith in markets, and uncontrolled capitalism on the one hand, and excessively big government on the other. Scandinavia does a reasonable job of balancing these factors.

  32. 32
    Thomas says:

    “Likewise I don’t think building codes can force people to incorporate high thermal efficiency blinds. But they could be encouraged, or the price could be subsidised.”

    A BCCTS should do the trick – Building Codes Cooling Trading Scheme?
    Or even a BCCFDS – Building Codes Cooling Fee & Dividend Scheme?

    “I’m generally a supporter of regulations if they are fundamentally sensible”

    Protective Regulation Banning all new coal mines?

    Protective Regulation Banning all extensions in area and lifetime of existing coal mines?

    Protective Regulation Banning all Tar Sands ‘mining’ and/or Pipelines?

    Protective Regulations Banning all Coal Seam Gas ‘mining’?

    Immanently sensible and based on scientific evidence and knowledge.


    Maybe curtains and blinds might help then.

    I know for certain it will not but let’s talk about it anyway. Could be ‘fun’ and/or a ‘constructive’ way to avoid reality.

  33. 33
    Thomas says:

    29 mike, when I look at the current numbers they are almost always 406-407

    10 years ago it was only 384 ppm

    The Growth Rate? Last 2 years +3ppm

    10 years from now it may be over 440 ppm

    The USA continues to spew out 6 times the GHG emissions of India’s teeming masses every day.

    Situation normal?

  34. 34
    Killian says:

    Re #5 Jonno said renewables maybe can’t handle it.

    Thus, there should be no grid. Local. Said this in 2008.

  35. 35
    Killian says:

    Ŕe #13 Scott Nudds said, Has ASI Extent peaked?

    I say, purdy much. Been wrong once, so…

  36. 36
    zebra says:

    Nigelj #30,

    This is the best picture I could find quickly to clarify the foundation design.

    The key is not the insulation under the slab but the little “wings” going out horizontally on the perimeter. This creates a zone under the house that is consistently at the temperature of the ground about six feet below the surface. (Of course you can have more or less insulation to control the effect.) In my building I did not use the insulation under the slab.

    How you finish the slab internally is not relevant. Mine is bare because it is a workshop, but padding and carpeting would not reduce the effect that much.

    This creates a “virtual basement”, or even “virtual cave or bunker”, if you want. I have a small window AC on the second floor which I only use if there is a very humid spell, and that’s for my work not for me. Otherwise, it stays cool with no energy expenditure.

    The problem, again, is that the mass market builders resist change as much as the fossil fuel people, and skimp everywhere they can. So energy efficient designs end up “not working” because the absolute minimal materials are used, to maximize profits even if it is by a trivial amount.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Charles Hughes says:

    MA Rodger says:
    3 Mar 2017 at 10:31 AM
    Another month begins and last month’s ‘UnVaried Forcation of Thomas’ figures are now in.
    February’s Unforced Variations thread comprised 257 comments (up on January’s 194 comments) of which 50 comments were “Thomas says”…

    Thomas doesn’t get the concept of ‘less is more’, brevity is the soul of wit, the simplest explanation is usually correct etc. Or just plain rules of conduct; decorum, good form, etiquette.

    It’s funny that Donald Trump doesn’t get that either.

  39. 39
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, are you getting email from too? I gather the WH office mailing list got handed over to the new folks.
    Seems like we’ve got Voice of America back in business as an emailer …

  40. 40

    Th 32: Protective Regulation Banning all new coal mines?
    Protective Regulation Banning all extensions in area and lifetime of existing coal mines?
    Protective Regulation Banning all Tar Sands ‘mining’ and/or Pipelines?
    Protective Regulations Banning all Coal Seam Gas ‘mining’?

    BPL: I’d be in favor of all of the above.

  41. 41
    Omega Centauri says:

    As long as the optical depth is >>1 scattering or absorbsion makes little difference for the radiative heat transfer (the photons are eventually absorbed/reemitted).

    What you really want is the effect on the opacity in the IR. Scattering is wideband, so it will have most effect in the windows between the gasseous absorption lines. But, of course under the assumption that convection is efficient, the local lapse rate is limited to be no greater than the adiabatic lapse rate.

  42. 42
    Keith Woollard says:

    So all these comments about Adelaide and heat waves and housing and renewables. Maybe we should look at the data instead of just reciting mantras? (novel ideal I know)Here is the data from
    Need to join two stations as there is no contiguous long term, here is the January mean max
    wow it is getting so much hotter

  43. 43
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @36

    Thank’s for the link. I read something similar a couple of years ago, but your article has more detail. It’s a great idea and technically proven, as a cooling mechanism. I infer that you live in a place with pretty hot humid summers, so cooling is your number one concern. It all sounds ideal, especially as climate change get’s worse

    I live in a climate with pretty cold winters and warm summers, and significant temperature differences between day and night, so for me the priority would be a home that maximises heat gain in winter, but with some ability to keep things cool in summer. In that situation you need an exposed concrete slab floor, ideally, to absorb heat in winter.

    Climate impacts where I live are more related to increased flooding and droughts, rather than heatwaves.

    But whatever the passive design system, mass market builders certainly don’t offer any options where I live. The sort of houses we build tend to be fake copy plastered Mediterranean style villas with flat roofs and not much thought to the actual local climate. It’s more about a fashion statement than functionality or innovation.

    I think there’s also a lack of awareness in the public about what can be achieved in passive solar design. Most passive solar homes are one off architect designs, or hand built houses built by ageing hippies or greenies, and there are some good houses like this, generally in more isolated rural areas.

    One approach to regulation could be to stipulate a level of energy efficiency that must be achieved, but leave it to owners and builders to figure out how to do that in detail. I do think some rules are appropriate, but without over dictating the design, and risking accusations of excessive bureaucracy. Setting performance requirements might be a way of reconciling these things.

  44. 44
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @32, I really have no idea what you are saying.

    I certainly never suggested passive solar design solves climate change, although it obviously can help mitigate some impacts.

    I’m also not aware that the article was specifically about how we reduce emissions at source, and thought it was an open comment sort of article. Please tell me if I have it wrong.

    I’m also not getting anything from your comments on what you think should be done, other than rather obtuse comments, sarcasm, or rhetorical questions. Banning coal mines might be a very good idea, but how do you propose that happens in our politically divided countries?

    While I’m interested in neoliberalism, and somewhat ‘sceptical’ about this ideology, I’m more interested in what you think, than a list of about 6 links, which becomes overpowering to look at. It’s easy enough to google various writers. Whats your personal opinion or insight?

  45. 45
    wili says:

    Arctic sea ice death spiral. What is likely going to be the high point at the height of freeze season for ice this year looks like it is going to about match the low point at the end of melt season from when accurate records first began in 1979.

    See also:

  46. 46
    Thomas says:

    38 Charles Hughes, now try and fit that in a single Tweet. You can do it if you try harder! (smile)

  47. 47
    zebra says:

    nigelj #31,

    Excellent clear, organized, and concise writing! (Thomas, take note.)

    The point about undersupply is very interesting. That would be the test of market principles.

    Say we have the government “own” the grid itself, so that all buyers and sellers have equal access. If there is no collusion among the generators, the only way to establish control of the market (excessive market power) would be to monopolize some essential element of production.

    I wonder if that would be possible even in your small market, given all the alternative generating technologies. Do you have some experience of this kind of behavior?

  48. 48
    Thomas says:

    Monbiot says: Online information already lends itself to manipulation and political abuse, and the age of big data has scarcely begun. In combination with advances in cognitive linguistics and neuroscience, this data could become a powerful tool for changing the electoral decisions we make.

    Our capacity to resist manipulation is limited. Even the crudest forms of subliminal advertising swerve past our capacity for reason and make critical thinking impossible. The simplest language shifts can trip us up. For example, when Americans were asked whether the federal government was spending too little on “assistance to the poor”, 65% agreed. When they were asked whether it was spending too little on “welfare”, 25% agreed. What hope do we have of resisting carefully targeted digital messaging that uses trigger words to influence our judgment?

    Political systems, particularly in the Anglophone nations, have scarcely changed since the fastest means of delivering information was the horse. They remain remote, centralised and paternalist. The great potential for participation and deeper democratic engagement is almost untapped.

    Because the rest of us have not been invited to occupy them, it is easy for billionaires to seize and enclose the political cyber-commons.

    Ah, ’tis a brave new world indeed.

    I don’t do Twitter. :-)

  49. 49
    Thomas says:

    47 zebra, take your own notes.

  50. 50
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @47, thanks.

    Yes if lines networks and generators are combined, then a company owning the lines network and generators, could restrict new generators gaining access to the network, or charge them excessive prices. This actually happened in our country with both electricity and telecoms.

    Our country has therefore deliberately separated ownership of the lines network from generators. Under the law, you can’t be both. It’s basically a good system. The aim was to have competition on a shared lines network, and currently we have three generator companies competing.

    However there’s not much to stop the generator companies combining into a monopoly, other than competition watch dogs like the commerce commission, and it depends on whether they would have the courage to forbid a merger. Recently they would not approve a big media company merger, so its possible they would not approve a merger of generator companies. I would hope they wouldn’t approve a merger.

    However the three competing generators are small companies, and I do wonder whether we have just ended up with a lot of duplication of administrative costs.

    Regarding the generators gaining monopoly over production. They have certainly made it hard for smaller generators to enter the system, by manipulating their prices and using their power to lodge various objections. They have also made it hard for people with solar roof panels to sell power back to the system. Its all an ongoing war of attrition.

    The solution to this sort of anti competitive and / or exclusionary behaviour has to come from government level watchdog and regulatory agencies, and requires courage and principles. In a small country where everyone knows everyone, and you have lobby groups and partisan political ideologies, its hard to get an ideal and proper level of government regulation of the market players, to ensure there’s a level playing field etc.

    There don’t seem to be simple answers, other than as many people as possible understanding and promoting that governments do have a proper and reasonable role to regulate the system, to ensure markets operate fairly and maintain basic safety standards, and that monopolies are either minimised, or properly regulated where you do have monopolies. Somehow we have to get people to understand it’s not an issue of capitalism versus some controlling socialism, and more of a logical management tool that fixes issues where sometimes some markets don’t inherently provide very good control systems.