Monday, December 31, 2012

Shellacking "The Republican Brain"

Responding to a review of their book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fantasies and the Rise of the Scientific Left in Pacific Standard -- which appeared there (unfavorably) alongside Chris Mooney's The Republican Brain -- co-author Alex Berezow gives Mooney's approach to science a(nother) well-deserved shellacking:
"Herbert fawned over Mooney’s book, the primary thrust of which is that psychology, neuroscience, and genetics explain why Republicans are “smart idiots” and reality deniers. Herbert found Mooney’s book “convincing,” despite the fact that few (if any) scientists would agree. In fact, Mooney’s main premise has been roundly debunked as pseudoscientific nonsense by a neuroscientist, a biochemist, and high-profile evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. As described in the New York Times, such critics resent the “bastardization [of neuroscience] by glib, sometimes ill-informed, popularizers.”

"Similarly, our book makes the point—among many others—that such politicization of science illustrates everything that is wrong with modern science journalism. In our chapter “The Death of Science Journalism,” we discuss how too many science writers have morphed into cheerleaders who uncritically embrace progressive political causes at the expense of good science. For these writers, science isn’t about uncovering the wonders of the natural world; instead, it’s just another platform from which to bash and demonize political opponents. We believe such journalistic malpractice epitomizes science writing at its absolute worst."
He goes on:
"My co-author and I clearly possess a very different science writing philosophy. We believe in order for science journalism to thrive, it must primarily focus on reporting science, not politics. And most importantly, writers should be as objective as possible, fighting for Team Science instead of dedicating their careers to promoting Team Red or Team Blue....

"Anyone who is willing to take off his partisan glasses will quickly come to the conclusion that both sides of the political spectrum—conservatives and progressives—are willing to throw science under the bus whenever it is politically expedient."
To be sure, every popular book about science doesn't have to gush over "the wonders of the natural world," but it does need to be scientifically accurate, which clearly Mooney's book is not. It just seems retrograde to me to be using science -- which has done so much to make political and religious differences irrelevant -- as a bludgeon in support of one's political ideology.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back to the Old Design

So I'm back to the old, boring design after some lukewarm feedback, and after I couldn't immediately figure out how to leave a comment on my old post.

Maybe some other time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Design (?)

So, obviously, I'm trying a new design here.

Do you like it? Hate it? Page views are up sharply, but comments are down.

I kind of like it, but am not wedded to it. I'd appreciate any feedback.

The Risks We Accept

In a chapter about the Vioxx fiasco -- when Merck lied about the drug's coronary risk -- Michael Specter writes in Denialism:
"People never measure the risk of keeping the drug off the market, though, and that is the problem. If you applied FDA phase I or II or III criteria--all required for drug approval--to driving an automobile in nearly any American city, nobody would be allowed to enter one. When we compare the risk of taking Vioxx to the risk of getting behind the wheel of a car, it's not all clear which is more dangerous."
It's interesting to compare the risks we accept versus the ones we won't.

Interesting Stuff

You would have thought that James Inhofe had at least two dart boards with Lisa Jackson's picture on it -- one for the office and one for home -- but here's what he released after she announced her resignation as EPA Administrator:
"Lisa Jackson and I disagreed on many issues and regulations while she headed the EPA; however, I have always appreciated her receptivity to my concerns, her accessibility and her honesty.”
Politico said he had a "soft spot" for her. Or maybe he's mellowing in his old age (he recently turned 78).
--

A paper in Geophysical Research Letters by Nicolaus et al quantifies how younger Arctic sea ice allows more energy into the underlying sea:
"Our results show that transmittance through first-year ice (FYI, 0.11) was almost three times larger than through multi-year ice (MYI, 0.04), and that this is mostly caused by the larger melt-pond coverage of FYI (42 vs. 23 %). Also energy absorption was 50% larger in FYI than in MYI."
They write, though, that total solar input depends on clouds, which can change as the Arctic continues to warm, but overall they expect this to be a positive feedback.
--

Jim Ball writes:
"...cheap gas has us idling about half of the existing coal capacity, fooling us into thinking this is progress, and displacing exponential solutions with a fractional one in the guise of being clean and climate-friendly. Not a good outcome for overcoming global warming. Instead of making sound, sober long-term investments in renewables and efficiency that will reap exponential rewards, we are partying it up on a cheap gas credit card with a very high climate-impacts rate."

Friday, December 28, 2012

An Aspect of Denialism

From Michael Specter's Denialism:
"By forgetting the Vioxxes, Vytorins, the nuclear accidents, and constant flirtation with eugenics, and instead speaking only of science as a vehicle for miracles, we dismiss an important aspect of who we are. We need to remember both sides of any equation or we risk acting as if no mistakes are possible, no grievances just. This is an aspect of denialism shared broadly throughout society; we tend to consider only what matters to us now, and we create expectations for all kinds of technology that are simply impossible to meet. That always makes it easier for people, already skittish about their place in a complex world, to question whether vaccines work, or AIDS is caused by HIV, or why they ought to take prescribed pain medication instead of chondroitin or some other useless remedy recommended wholeheartedly by alternative healers throughout the nation."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Evolution of Ocean Garbage Patches

Plastic is accumulating in ocean gyres, called "garbage patches" -- in some parts of the North Pacific there is now more mass in plastic than in biotic life, and the garbage can be trapped there for a millenium, where it breaks down into small plastic pellets and becomes part of the food chain.

A new study by Erik van Sebille and others in Environment Research Letters studies the evolution of these patches, and finds that most of the junk outside the North Atlantic will eventually end up in the North Pacific. They also discovered a sixth gyre, in the Barents Sea.
Here's a great video where he explains their work:


van Sebille says there is "no solution" to the problem -- most of the pieces are just too small -- except to make plastics that do not break down. Oh, yeah: and not to put it there in the first place.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tea Party Goes Rogue

Having gotten trounced in last month's election, the Tea Party decides to double down on wacky conspiracy theories:
Mr. Cummings, who is the Midwest coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, a national group, said a major issue he would be focusing on now was Agenda 21, a United Nations resolution that encourages sustainable development. It has no force of law in the United States, but a passionate element of the Tea Party sees it as a plot against American property rights.
That should keep them occupied, and irrelevant. Smart move.

Monday, December 24, 2012

This is Pretty Funny

From Skeptical Science:


Of course, if kids wouldn't burn the lump of coal they get in their stockings, it'd be a form of sequestration.... Anthracite coal is about 80% carbon by weight, and, according to a recent paper by Hansen et al there is over 10,000 gigatons of carbon in recoverable coal reserves, so if a lump of coal weighs 1/4th kg all we need are about 4 x 1016 bad kids and the coal problem is solved in a single year. (There'd still be enough oil and natural gas to frack up the climate, so maybe that could be given away to bad kids for Easter and Halloween.)

Peak Sun

It's looking like solar irradiance (at Earth) has peaked for this solar cycle and is on the way down. Here are the 30-day and 365-day moving averages of total solar irradiance (TSI), as measured by LASP in Colorado:


So now comes the big "bicentennial decrease," at least according to Russian scientist Habibullo I. Abdussamatov.

It's difficult to exaggerate the immensity of a 5-6 W/m2 drop in solar intensity, were it to happen. (It won't.) For example, through the Maunder Minimum solar intensity was only about 1 W/m2 lower than today, according to a reconstruction by Wang, Lean, and Sheeley:


There are some other wacky ideas out there, too, about the coming solar cooldown.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Is Australian Carbon Tax Causing Inflation?

Is Australia's carbon tax caused increased inflation?

That's the claim of the blog The Globalist Report. (They seem pretty conservative and not exactly objective.) It's based on this quarter-by-quarter inflation data from the Australian government (right).

The most recent quarter had a 1.4% increase in prices, which (based on their yearly numbers) doesn't look to be annualized. That's high, but it happened in a quarter just a year and a half ago.

Seems more data is needed, but worth paying attention to.

The Ever-Shrinking David Rose Hole

With the Hadley Centre's release of their November global temperature anomaly, +0.512°C, the "David Rose hole" is now only 5 months long (June-Oct 1997) -- the period where the statistical significance of the warming falls below 95%. The lowest it reaches now is 93%.

Including lag-1 autocorrelation -- that is, a month's relationship to its prior or following month -- the minimum statistical significance is 64% -- up from last month's 62%.

Where will they hang their hat after this hole closes?

A more scientifically meaningful trend, like 30 years, is still a highly significant +0.16°C/decade. That's 0.9°F of warming in just 3 decades.

Grey bar intersections with the black line (5 months in 1997) represents the "David Rose Hole," the
period of no statistically significant warming of the HadCRUT4 temperature series

Friday, December 21, 2012

This Holiday Season

This Holiday Season

Acts of kindness
are up twelve percent
on an annualized basis
compared to the same period
of a year ago.

Doors are being opened
for the elderly and frail
at twice the rate
of anything seen before.

Pain and suffering
are down by a third,
though health experts cannot account
for the change.

Economists have all taken the month off,
declaring, to the surprise of many,
that some things are more important
than Bloomingdale’s bottom line.

--  David Appell

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Irrationality of the Megan McArdles

My God -- now we are blaming people for not rushing mass murderers???

What the hell is this world coming to?

The Newtown Connecticut shooting has shook up the nation, rightfully so. But perhaps nothing that has appeared has a higher product of stupidity-times-reputation than Megan McArdle:
"I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once." 
This is clear proof that even seemingly smart people can be total morons, and it is especially good proof that the libertarian philosophy ultimately comes up against hard reality where it no longer has anything useful to say, which is exactly why it hasn't made any headway in the real arena of governance.

This is just completely stupid. It reminds us of John Derbyshire's idiocy after the Virginia Tech shooting:
"Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake–one of them reportedly a .22.  At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren’t very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can’t hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage–your chances aren’t bad.  Yes, yes, I know it’s easy to say these things: but didn’t the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything?"
Derbyshire, of course, has never faced the slightest bit of harm. Neither did McArdle. Neither of them has any conception at all of what it means to rush a shooter who is spraying bullets, trying to kill everyone in sight.

The real question that is pressing down on America is: why are some people acting completely irratrionally? Why do some people think the government is out to get them, that the economy is going to collapse and we will go Red Dawn, that the gumint is going to lock us all up in concentration camps.

If even someone as purportedly smart as Megan McArdle is thinking so irrationally, what has gone wrong here? We really need to figure this out.

Shocker: Art Robinson to Be Promoted?

Reportedly, Art Robinson is seeking the chairmanship of the Oregon Republican Party.

Robinson just lost -- for the second time -- to Congressional representative Peter DeFazio, 59%-39%.

He lost big. Robinson has made a career out of kooky ideas, such as denying climate change and suggesting that radioactive waste ought to be sprinkled across America.

Nothing could make the Republican party in Oregon less relevant than to elevate someone like Art Robinson. I happen to think a second party is necessary to counter the extreme left. (And frankly, I'd like to see a third party, too.) But here Republicans don't seem to have learned a thing from last month's election -- which is good news for Democrats and Progressives, really.

Why It Doesn't Matter if Matt Ridley is Wrong

A good point, which I'll use in relation to Matt Ridley's WSJ piece, which Media Matters calls a "dud":
"Another reason that arguing the politics through science is a poor approach to dealing with complex political issues is that such an approach has a disproportionately negative downside for scientific institutions and the process of science. Advocates for inaction on climate change who base their arguments on science (however flawed these arguments may be), being in the minority, can play David to the majority's Goliath. If David is caught exaggerating or simply making a mistake, the damage to science is small because not much is expected of an underdog, especially one repeatedly characterized as being out of the mainstream. But when those who present themselves as representing the science itself are caught, the damage can be dramatic. After all, if the "outsider" lies or makes a mistake, who cares? He can be (and typically is) dismissed as just a kook.... But if advocates who claim to represent the mainstream scientific establishment tell lies or make mistakes, they become an argument in favor of inaction. There is thus an asymmetry in the consequences of politicizing science that falls in the favor of those opposed to action."

-- Roger Pielke Jr., The Climate Fix, Chapter 8

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ethics of Geoengineering, Part 2

Part 2 of my Yale Forum series on the ethics of geoengineering is out. (Part 1 is here.) Here's one excerpt from philosopher Stephen Gardiner of U-Washington, writing about “whatever it takes-style emergency arguments” for geoengineering:
"It is ethically short-sighted (in the sense of “missing the bigger picture”) in so far as it arbitrarily marginalizes central moral issues such as how we got into this predicament, and why we are not seriously pursuing better ways out. It is also frequently morally schizophrenic (in the sense of being “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements”) since it tends to bring on a form of creative myopia: it requires us to emphasize and endorse strong ethical concerns that we are otherwise unwilling to act on, and which would, if earnestly and coherently embraced, lead us to approach both climate policy in general and geoengineering in particular in very different ways."
The rest is here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Harvesting the Wind


From David Keith's excellent 2007 TED talk on geoengineering.

The Ethics of Geoengineering

I have an two-part series about the ethics of geoengineering out in the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. Part 1 came out last week, and Part 2 comes out tomorrow (I think).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun Violence Denial

The WSJ has biographies of the Newtown shooting victims, some of them heartbreaking.

There is an online petition to the White House to "Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress" that already has over 120,000 signatures. It probably won't do any good, but if it could garner a few million signatures it could be a vehicle for some useful media attention. It's the least you can do (almost literally).

And then there's this, from the mother of a disturbed 13-year old, about the scant options for treating mental illness in the U.S. outside the prison system.

One of the most odious aspects of these events are the gun creeps who use the occasion to tell us that if only more people were armed, these mass shootings wouldn't happen. Piers Morgan erupted on a few of them here. Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, who on more than one issue has struck me as being as dumb as a sack of rocks, said today:
"Chris, I wish to god she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said.
This kind of analysis seems to me as little different from denial of climate change or other scientific facts. It assumes the conditions needed for the success of its argument: if this, and if the principal did this, and if that happened, then the shooting wouldn't have happened.

Well, sure, but the gun creeps seem incapable of understanding that a lot of other things might happen instead: the principal might lose the keys to her gun locker, or someone else might get ahold of her gun and cause havoc, or the principle might go beserk, or the principal might, you know, hit some little kids as she tried to take down a heavily armed, determined gunman wearing body armor.

The fact is that when guns are around, they get used and people die -- not mass shooters, but usually someone known to the shooter -- wives, neighbors, kids. A famous 1986 study by Arthur Kellerman of a 5-year period in Seattle found that 'for every case in which an individual used a firearm kept in the home in a self-defense homicide, there were 1.3 unintentional deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, and 37 suicides involving firearms.'

In fact, it seems to me the Newtown shootings are largely an example of this: someone had guns in their home that were used for another purpose other than that intended.

The shooter reportedly got these guns from his mother's home. Why did a middle-aged women living in a leafy Connecticut suburb keep (or need) high-powered assault weapons?

"Guns were her hobby," a neighbor said. Fine -- until someone else gets ahold of them. And too often, someone does. In "12 Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the United States," Ezra Klein writes:
8. More guns tend to mean more homicide.
9. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.
Who is surprised at either of these? They're perfectly predictable. More guns means more gun violence.

You want to use a gun? Sign up for your state's militia, on which the 2nd Amendment is predicated. No one needs an assault rifle unless they intend to kill large numbers of human beings very quickly, and no one outside the military should be allowed to have one. Period.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"...you are in a trance"

In other news yesterday, a high school student in Oklahoma was arrested "on charges he plotted to bomb and shoot students at the campus auditorium," and a man opened fire at a hospital in Alabama, wounding two people. Just another day in America.

A Canadian comments at the NY Times:
"Reading the blogs and comments, one is made aware of how divided a country you are, how impossible you are now to govern. You are slipping each day into becoming a failed state: a government that not only does not function, but is in fact owned by the rich (Democrats almost as bad as Republicans) and lobbying interests (NRA, the religious Right, etc.) All these things - the disappearance of the middle class, among them - have led you to this place. A violent past, a militaristic presence in the world, and like the drones you have pummelling civilians in parts of the world you couldn't care less about, you are killing each other because, in the end, you are in a trance."

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Why We Let School Shootings Continue"

"In the wake of Galen’s murder, I wrote a book about the shooting. In it I suggested that we view gun crime as a public health issue, much the same as smoking or pesticides. I spent a number of years attending rallies, signing petitions, writing letters and making speeches, but eventually I gave up. Gun control, such a live issue in the “early” days of school shootings, inexplicably became a third-rail issue for politicians.

"I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it. A terrible shame, but hey — didn’t some guy in China just do the same thing with a knife?

"Still, whatever your position on gun control, it is impossible not react with horror to news of the shootings in Connecticut. Our horror is nuanced by knowledge of what those families are going through, and what they will have to endure in years to come.

"More horrible still — to me at least — is the inevitable lament, “How could we have let this happen?”

"It is a horrible question because the answer is so simple. Make it easy for people to get guns and things like this will happen.

"Children will continue to pay for a freedom their elders enjoy."

-- Gregory Gibson, New York Times

The American Heart

Three days after my sister had to run out of an Oregon mall from gunfire that killed 2 people inside, now we have this unimaginable shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Who knows what to say. There seems to be no end to this kind of news, and my keyboard seems to be the place where I hear about them all -- I can still remember the moment of the Columbine shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Clackmas mall shooting. 

These shootings have now become a phenomenon, a type of statement, I guess, a way for a few people -- always young men -- to express something maybe they can't even identify. There are surely many reasons behind them, arising from our big, complex society, but to me there seems to be something wrong with the American heart.

One thing that seems significant, to me, is that many of these shooters were dressed at least partly in military garb -- in black, or in camo, often wearing a vest designed to hold ammunition. Its often how the police often dress too, especially the responders, or those assigned to police public events. And, of course, it's a big part of many video games. These shooters seem themselves on a mission, and dress accordingly.

I don't think you can separate this from our country's militarism. (The Oregon shooter was reportedly frustrated that he had been unable to join the Marines.) Our country is quick to initiate violence as a solution to our international problems -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen -- and we are killing thousands of civilians in the process. The media barely notices anymore, and the public doesn't care.

They have their drone strikes, ordered by our President. We have our mall and school shootings.

I don't know of any answers, but it seems to me you can't condemn violence on the one hand and utilize it on the other.

And we adults can't continue to merely be shocked at these incidents time and time again, and do nothing about it. If we aren't taking the time to contact our representatives about limiting weapons like assault rifles and automatic weapons -- which have no legitimate purpose as hunting weapons, but are strictly intended to kill large numbers of people quickly -- and closing background check loopholes, then we are failing in our responsibility to be morally responsible human beings. And if we aren't adding our voices to those speaking against extreme and irrational voices like the NRA -- who by now have to seen as an accomplice, I believe -- then you have to accept that our silence is part of the problem.

IPCC and Transparency

Stoat has some thoughts on the SOD leak, especially that these days it's somewhat silly to pretend these things can be kept secret:
...given that any old fool can sign up to be an “expert reviewer” and many do, and that the denialists are self-serving liars, leaking of the report was only to be expected. Which makes a farce of trying to keep it private. The only solution is for the IPCC to stop pretending it isn’t going to be leaked, and make the draft report publically available with the words “draft” stamped on it in nice big letters.

While they’re doing that they should rename the “expert reviewer” category to just “reviewer”, or perhaps just remove it entirely. Certainly at the moment there is no quality control at all over the expertness of the reviewer.
There really doesn't seem to be a lot new about the SODs conclusions, despite how some are trying to spin this.

Hosting IPCC 5AR Second Order Drafts

The IPCC 5th Assessment Report Second Order Drafts were leaked yesterday, and are available at this site. I've put them here (as an RAR file) with the ZOD and FOD documents that were leaked earlier.

As I stated with the FODs, I believe these documents are of important public and journalistic interest, and publishing them is protected by the U.S. First Amendment. The IPCC's "Principles Governing IPCC Work" says
"2. The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation." 
Just to be clear, I certainly do not agree with the leaker, Alec Rawls, about any notions of "green suicide." On the contrary, I think manmade climate change is one of the greatest problems humanity faces, which is why I think scientific openness is so important.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Santa Immediately Took Cover

Witnesses at the Portland-area shooting said the mall's Santa hit the floor when the shooting started. Which might be as good a description of present day America as any.


More on the Oregon Shooting

#Clackamashooting

My sister is home now, and OK. Perhaps a little dazed, not wanting to tell her kids about what she just went through. But for a rather arbitrary decision to go into one store before the other, she would have been in the very store (Macy's) the gunman walked into with a mask and assault weapon, and at the very counter (cosmetics) the gunman ran past.

The news is saying there are 2 dead, and many injured.

She said as soon as she heard the pops she knew immediately what it was -- apparently Americans are now well-trained to recognize mall shootings -- and was the first one out the door of Barnes and Noble. A helicopter pilot for the local news said he has never seen the level of police (etc.) response he saw here.

The shooter has been "neutralized," according to police. We all know what kind of person he will revealed as. For some reason who the fuck can figure out anymore, he was able to buy an assault weapon.

Of course, there will be all the same hemming and hawing from politicians (if even that) about how their prays are with the families of those killed and injured, blah blah blah -- as if those ever do any good -- and then immediately shut up about gun control because they're afraid of losing a few votes and afraid of the NRA. Utter cowards.

Meanwhile the U.S. will continue to devolve into a place where people can immediately recognize a mall shooting and know to just start running.

Shooting in Clackamas

My sister just called me -- she was shopping at the Clackmas Town Center and heard gun shots in another part of the mall! She had to run out of the store with everyone else, and says now police are flooding the place. Nothing on the news yet except a breaking news banner and this item from Twitter.

Wow. Sometimes you really have to wonder what this country is coming to....

The Closing of the David Rose Hole

Ever since David Rose's article in October claiming that global warming stopped 16 years ago, you hear a lot of 'skeptics' repeating the claim. It is very thin gruel.

As I showed here, it's a total cherry pick, and not even a very good one. There has been warming, it's just not quite significant at the 95% confidence level.

There is more HadCRUT4 data now, and this small hole of no warming is getting smaller. (GISS shows statistically significant warming prior to 2000, so I'll concentrate on HadCRUT4.) There is now only a 6 months period where the warming is not statistically significant at the 95% level:


How small is the David Rose hole? HadCRUT4's warming is only, at worst, 92% statistically significant, instead of the canonical 95%:


This tiny difference is all that the claim now rests on. It will probably be done in a few months anyway.

This (obviously) changes if you include autocorrelation -- the fact that the climate system has inertia, and one month's temperature depends on the temperature of the months before it -- but not by much. Here is the graph of the linear trend including rank-1 autocorrelation (that is, a correlation between immediately neighboring months only):


And the plot of statistical significance:


The math reveals what the physics already knows: 16 years is too short of a time interval to make statistically significant conclusions about temperature trends -- there is just too much autocorrelation (inertia) in the system.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Climate Solution, Year 2060


From a talk on carbon dioxide removal by David Keith.

Warm November = Joe Bastardi Fail

GISS puts up the second-warmest November in their records, after the 2nd-warmest October and 3rd-warmest September. It's not looking good for Joe Bastardi, who in August wrote
"Look for the global temp against the means to really crash in the fall as the true global temp is being masked because the southern hemisphere can not contribute when its cold like it is as much BECAUSE OF THE WATER THERE."
Oops!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Another Year Towards an Inverse Ice Age

I'm sorry, but it seems a little silly for the UNFCC to end its Doha COP18 meeting by agreeing to extend the Kyoto Protocol. Countries in the second phase account for only 15% of world emissions -- Canada, Japan, and Russia all will not participate, nor (of course) the U.S., or China or India.

It's simply not credible to simply divide the world up into two groups -- developed and developing (or, rich vs poor) and pretend much of anything can be accomplished by only the first group. When the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, North America + Europe accounted for 48% of the world's CO2 emissions. That's now down to 35% (2010).

China+India accounted for 17% of world emissions in 1997; now they're 32% (2010).

Over this interval
North America's emissions have increased by 2%
Europe -2%
China 170%
India 95%.

Of course, the US is still the biggest sinner, with per capita emissions (in 2010) about 2.5 times Europe's 3 times China's and 12.5 times India's.

Then there are silly statements like this:
European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard hailed the fact that nearly 200 countries agreed on a framework for negotiating a pact over the next three years, which will take effect in 2020.

“It was not an easy and comfortable ride,” she said in a statement. “But we have managed to cross the bridge. Very intense negotiations lie ahead of us. What we need now is more ambition and more speed.”
when this is more applicable:
Fred Boltz, senior vice president for international policy at the advocacy group Conservation International, said in a statement, “Nobody expected a major breakthrough to happen at this summit, but there has been virtually no meaningful progress on any important issue.”
More and more these annual meetings seem like diplomatic exercises held merely for the sake of appearances. It'd have been better if Hedegaard, and the other officials in charge, just told the plain truth -- nothing whatsoever was accomplished, and the world is one year further along on its path toward an inverse ice age -- and hope the shock value prods someone into thinking straight.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Divestiture from Fossil Fuel Companies

According to this article, college students are rising up to encourage their universities from divesting in fossil fuels companies, because of climate change problem.

Apparently this has come from the efforts of -- you guessed it -- Bill McKibben, bad math and all.

Actually I think this not a bad idea, but I also don't think it will work.

In short: it's easy to protest against things that don't cost you anything.

--

When I was in college, there was an effort among college organizations for their universities to divest from companies who did business in South Africa. I wasn't part of these efforts, mind you -- I was too busy with a double major in physics and mathematics. And I've never been able to be part of that kind of crowd anyway.

But the protest worked, and it helped end apartheid there, in its way.

Apartheid -- the segregation and disestablishment of blacks in South Africa (as if it needs explaining, but these days it might) was a hideous moral crime. It followed the struggle of blacks in the U.S. in the 1960s, and so was easy for my generation to identify with -- we grew up (barely) cognizant of that struggle, with the moral ground already well plowed.

And violations of basic humans rights are easy to understand anyway.

Not so much with climate change. Every college student out there today is highly dependent on a vast energy infrastructure that runs almost entirely on fossil fuels. (At last count, only 9% of US energy came from renewable sources, over the last 12 months.)

Turn all that off? No way -- of course. (How would McKibben get to his next protest?)

Use all renewables? Watch the students complain when their tuition goes up to cover the increased cost of renewable energy.

It all comes down to what Roger Pielke Jr calls the Iron Law of Climate Policy:
When policies on emissions reductions collide with policies focused on economic growth, economic growth will win out every time. 
That's it. That's the bottom line, every time, all the time.

Until noncarbon energy is cheaper than, or at least equal to, the price of fossil fuels, there will be no cutbacks. Period.

So, in my opinion, what these students ought to be protesting for is (at the least) a carbon tax, to incentivize R&D into non-C energy. Better yet (IMO) is a serious federal research program -- $10-20 billion/yr -- into technologies like nuclear fusion and air capture and carbon sequestration. Continued tax breaks for solar and wind. Credits for home-based solar panels. Drive up the demand for solar panels, and (unexpectedly) you will help drive down the price.

We can't stop using energy, and that's the difference from South Africa

The Hypocrisy of Al Gore

Criticizing Obama for not taking more action on global warming, Al Gore said today,
“On a national level, to use a computer term — our democracy has been hacked,”
Give me a freaking break. Until he was shoved out of it, Al Gore was an enthusiastic participant in the hacking of our democracy, doing all he could to remain a politician beholden to corporate interests. And he would have gladly kept all the corporate money he could get in his grubby hands until he might have left office in 2008, had the Supreme Court not stolen the 2000 election from him.

And now we're supposed to consider him pure, some kind of said? I certainly do not.

A Photo of DNA

This is just too good: a picture of DNA, said to be the first ever:

First Photo Of Dna

It looks....just like the physical biologists said it did in 1953, based on the physics of X-ray crystallography.

Did you know that DNA, as a molecule, was first isolated by a Swiss physician named Friedrich Miescher in 1869? He didn't, of course, know about its genetic significance, but still that's pretty impressive.

Several years ago a biologist friend and I tried to isolate the DNA of an onion in my kitchen, but it came out a gloppy mess. Which is kind of how I, and most physicists I know, think of biology -- a wet, gloppy mess. (It's wrong, of course, but a bias among physicists.)

I suspect that in 30 years high school students will be sequencing their teacher's DNA in their bedroom.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

While Corporate Profits Soar....

Corporate profits in America continue to soar -- up now to 11.1% of GDP, the highest level since at least 1947. So where are the jobs? Non-Kenyisans? Tea Partiers? What is your answer??

Graph of Corporate Profits After Tax

Have we reached finally the prefect corporatocracy -- massive profits for corporations, no profits for anyone else?

Bush Could Have Paid Off the Entire Debt - Twice

Here's something you may not know: George W Hoover could have easily paid off the entire federal debt during his administrations -- twice.

When Bush Jr. took office in 1Q2001, federal receipts were 20.7% of GDP. (Today they are 17.0% of GDP.)

FRED Graph

Had federal revenues remained at that level, it's easy to calculate the additional federal revenue that would have come in, using this GDP data.

The answer: an additional $10,820 billion dollars.

When Bush Jr came into office, the total federal debt was $5.7 trillion. When he left office in January 2009 it stood at $10.62 trillion.

Hence, had Bush not decided the surplus was "the people's money," and gave it all to (rich) people, the entire debt would have been easily paid off, with plenty of money left over for wars, killing people, Medicare expansion (Part D), etc.

No conservative gave a crap them. Don't let them tell you they give a crap now.

PS: While Hoover Jr doubled the debt, Reagan increased it by 150%.

Early Work on Climate and CO2

During recent months I have been collecting references to early work on climate and greenhouse gases, going back to Fourier in 1827, and have put them here:


As you can see, many scientists had long been thinking about, and trying to calculate, CO2's effect on climate. (If you have additional papers for this list, let me know.)

The canonical work disproving the claimed 1970's "consensus" on global cooling/new ice age is

"The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus"
W. Peterson et al, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 1325–1337, 2008

If you haven't read Spencer Weart's work, you should -- and, if you can afford it, The Warming Papers by Pierrehumbert and Archer. Justin Gillis of the NYT reviewed the latter here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More on Autocorrelation of Temperature Data

This is pretty wonkish and probably not of interest to anyone else, but... I have been trying to better understand autocorrelation in time series -- the notion that a data point, like a temperature, depends on the points just before it -- and especially how to calculate autocorrelation coefficients.

Here is a good review of autocorrelation in time series, if you're looking for it, by Dave Meko at the University of Arizona. This Appendix by Tom Wigley explains more, and his equation 9 is especially important.

I do most of my calculations in Excel, so I've been trying to figure out how to calculate the autocorrelation coefficients rk for a given lag k, using Excel. (The "lag" k is the number of points away that you're looking for a correlation -- temperatures in relation to last month is "lag 1," in relation to two months ago is "lag 2," and so on).

Here is the magic formula:

rk = PEARSON(OFFSET($data$,0,0,N-k,1),OFFSET($data$,lag,0,N-k,1))

where N is the number of data points in your time series, k is the lag, and $data$ is the array containing your data, such as A1:A180 for a 15-year series of monthly temperatures contained in column A. (After I figured this out, I then found it in this Excel forum discussion.)

Once you know the autocorrelation coefficients, you can use them in the calculation of the uncertainty of a linear trend. In essence, the number of independent data points in the series is reduced -- usually drastically so. For just 1st-order correlation, the effective number of data points is (Meko eq 15Wigley eq 9)
Neff = N(1-r1)/(1+r1)

This number can be much less than the number of actual data points. For example, for the monthly RSS lower troposphere temperature, and a 15-year linear trend, the number of data points is 180 (=12*15). But even just the lag-1 autocorrelation is so high (r1 = 0.746) that the effective number of independent degrees of freedom is, for the 15 years up to October 2012, only 26.3 --  just over two years.

So you can begin to see why talking about trends over the last 15 years, or since 1998, or whatever, is really meaningless -- because of autocorrelation, you are really only talking about 2-3 years of independent data.

For higher autocorrelations -- and the typical time series you find in climate change usually contains significant autocorrelation beyond lag-1 -- the relationship is much more complicated, and I am still trying to figure this out. (Lee and Lund discuss it here, which I found a copy of somewhere, but it's pretty heavy mathematics that I'm still working through). Most climatologists only consider lag-1 autocorrelation, as did Foster and Rahmstorf here, because it's much easier. But it's not the final word (nor, as Lee and Lund show, do higher autocorrelations necessarily mean more uncertainty about the trend, a somewhat counterintuitive result).

For example, for the 15-year trend of the RSS lower troposphere data, concluding in October 2012, I find:
r1 = 0.746
r2 = 0.648
r3 = 0.533
r4 = 0.421
r5 = 0.320
r6 = 0.264
r7 = 0.146
r8 = 0.300
r9 = -0.024

The correlation coefficients die off slowly.

Like I said, this is pretty far into the weeds, but I find it interesting, and maybe a few others will as well, including Google searchers who land here. I still have things to figure out; the basic question is, given a time series such as temperature anomalies, what is the statistical uncertainty in the trend (slope) including all relevant autocorrelation lags? (And what does "relevant" mean, exactly?)

It's not an easy question, but it does show why considering "short" time intervals is meaningless. The question is, what does "short" mean? Mathematics is the only thing that can answer that.

Science and Taxi Cabs

"Science is not a taxi-cab that we can get in and out of whenever we like."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer 
Via this good article in the Huffington Post.


Caption of the Day

Actually, from two days ago, from the New York Times:


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Space Debris and Climate Change (Really?)

I don't understand this notion that climate change will negatively affect space debris:
In a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, a research team led by John Emmert of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Space Science Division in Washington, described a new method for quantifying increases in carbon dioxide in the hard-to-measure portion of the upper atmosphere known as the thermosphere, which can't be reached by balloons and aircraft.

In that region, more than 50 miles above Earth's surface, carbon emissions cause cooling rather than warming because carbon dioxide molecules collide with oxygen atoms and release heat into space. Because such cooling makes the planet's atmosphere contract, it can reduce drag on satellites and debris that orbit the earth, possibly having "adverse consequences for the orbital debris environment that is already unstable," the researchers wrote.
The orbit of satellites and space debris is already affected by solar storms, which can heat the upper atmosphere and cause it to temporarily expand. Low-orbiting satellites experience more drag, which can shorten their lifetime, but the storms also clear out some low-lying space debris.

Is the rate of change of CO2 in the thermosphere (they find +24 ppm/decade) really enough to cause havoc to satellites on top of this? And space debris is random anyway -- this just mixes it up.... I guess I'm skeptical.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Declaration of the New America


Via Happy Place.

Good News on Drought

John Fleck, on this Nature study:
Some Good News Today on Climate Change: Less Drought than we thought.
Be sure to read his excerpts from the paper, and a perspective on it.

Of the 12 stories on Google News's top page for a search of "drought," only one covers this paper.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Privacy's End

“If the C.I.A. director can get caught, it’s pretty much open season on everyone else.”

-- Marc Rotenburg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, on privacy violations in the investigation of David Petraeus.



Moral Logic vs Scientific Accuracy

One of the deep problems with morality is that, when people think it is on their side, they sometimes abandon the truth.

History is, of course, rife with examples of those who broke with truth in light of what they perceived as a higher moral cause. You have to wonder if that's not the case with today's environmentalism. David Roberts is the most current example.

In a recent post on Grist, he tries to explain his position on "the moral logic of climate communication" (whatever the heck that means) with a loose analogy to a sick patient who is dying, but feels alright at the moment. He sets the very conditions he needs for his argument to prevail.

Roberts writes:
"Scientific accuracy is a virtue. But affective impact and moral resonance are also virtues. We cannot say things we know are false about climate change, but we also cannot, in good conscience, be indifferent to whether our words have any effect. Both moral obligations have a claim on us and, contra the scolds, narrow scientific accuracy is not a trump card in every tough case."
The operative word here is, of course, the "but" that begins the second sentence. He goes on:
"All those involved in communicating climate should take a hand in claiming the storm (Sandy) for that narrative. It is, ultimately, immoral not to."
And then his last sentence gives away the game:
"...narrow scientific accuracy is not a trump card in every tough case."
Look: scientific accuracy is all we have. The entire case for manmade climate change rests on it. Because it is not obvious that man is causing climate change. There is no pollution visible in the sky, no rivers catching on fire. The argument -- the only argument -- is scientific, based on the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide, robotic measurements of ocean temperatures, the analysis of historical proxies, and the intelligence to connect them all.

Abandoning science now -- even in part -- is to abandon what has got you this far. And I don't think people are that stupid and gullible -- even the ones who (pretend they) don't accept the science.

And what Roberts' is advocating for is abandoning science -- that is is "immoral" not to...stretch the truth. Immoral not to lie.

To me this is an obviously lost position, that I simply can't fathom, or accept.

How does Roberts get to that point? Because his defense essentially boils down to this:
"Humanity is at stake."
Of course, if that truly were the case, it's hard to argue for any limitations at all. If your village is about to be overrun by powerful Vandals, with 100% certainty, all your women and children to be killed, your death certain, what action, what lie, what atrocity isn't justified on your part?

But it's very convenient to take that point of view -- who can possibly argue against you if that's the case? You have shut the door on the argument from your side, and locked it. You have claimed the high ground, de facto, no questions invited, and none tolerated.

But this is a serious logical mistake on Roberts' part. It is far, far from clear that climate change puts humanity "at stake" -- viz., threatens its very existence, viz. means the human species will cease to exist.

He has not, in fact, taken the high ground -- he is just trying to shout louder from his hill.

Climate change is a story just getting started, and there are many paths it can take. Certainly it is an extremely difficult problem. Clearly there is the potential for some to suffer more than they otherwise would in the absence of climate change. (But there are those will gain benefits, too.)

But very smart people realize this problem and are working on it. Some are seriously considering geoengineering, whether it's taking carbon dioxide out of the air or reducing the amount of sunlight that hits earth. Lots of well-meaning people are working on mitigation, on adaptation, on struggling with the deep issues of governance.

And I think people are coming around. Maybe it was Sandy, with all its doubts and uncertainties. Maybe it was the US heat wave this spring, and the Moscow heat wave of 2010. Maybe it's all the scientists who are putting their necks on the line, and all their opponents who seem, any more, to only worm their way along the low road.

Heck, Grover Norquist just uttered the words "carbon" and "tax" in succession. OK, he quickly backtracked -- but then, he's a political animal who survives by the moment. He would never have done this much even a month ago. The wheel is turning.

And these people who are working on the issue -- they are not abandoning truth along the way, or even stretching it. Roberts wants them to abandon the truth for the sake of their (his?) cause. That cannot, and has never, won anything in the long run. It just makes you a liar.

And how can you stand on that?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Climate Newsbits

From the department of "We Will Pay for Climate Change One Way or the Other": New York Governor Andrew Cuomo requests $30 billion in federal assistance for disaster relief and infrastructure improvements.

For example, Mr. Cuomo wants to replace the region’s power grid — at a cost of $30 billion over 10 years — with a so-called smart grid that would improve the ability of utility companies to pinpoint areas with power failures and respond to them.
--

Earlier I mentioned that Norfolk, VA, a city of 240,000, might need $1 billion for a seawall. The climate queue appears to have begun.
--

Since the Democrats kept the Senate in last week's election, James Inhofe will not ascend to the majority chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. (It will be retained by Barbara Boxer of California.) In fact, he is term-limited by Republican caucus rules, so the minority chair will be David Vitter (R-La.), "a more moderate climate skeptic (if such a thing exists)."
--

Oregon's Ron Wyden will become chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden strikes me as one of the most thoughtful and reasonable politicians in the country (except for a little blip where he wanted to work with Paul Ryan on Medicare reform).
--

New Zealand announces it will not commit to a second Kyoto protocol. Even the good guys are bailing (though 36 countries are on board).
--

From an editor at Newsday, the biggest paper on Long Island, to James Inhofe: "Hey, senator, how about buying a house on the South Shore of Long Island?"
--

Andrew Dessler:  “Science papers are frequently like cooking chili — you don’t really know how it’ll turn out until you put it in the fridge for a day or two,” he said.
--

NOAA is now saying this winter is favored to be "ENSO-neutral."
--



Growing the Economy

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: I hope Obama can grow the economy by the same amount he and Romney spent on their campaigns.

Continental US: Cold October in a Warm Year

October 2012 Temperature Anomalies Map of the Contiguous U.S.NOAA's October temperature for the continental USA is 53.89°F, which is actually below the 1901-2000 baseline (by 0.27°F). It's the 73rd warmest October out of 118 years.

However, it's still a warm year for USA48, and very likely to be the warmest since at least 1895. If November and December are equal to the the 1980-2010 baseline, 2012 will break the previous record by a wide margin, 0.66°F, with its annual average 3.2 standard deviations above the mean.

Here's NOAA's report. (The calculations above are mine.) Over 60% of the continental US is still in drought.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More on India's Adaptation Costs

Earlier I highlighted a news story that reported India's government says it is spending more on adapting to climate change -- 2.8% of GDP -- than on health care.

I haven't yet found a breakdown of these costs, but did find this 2011 message from Dipak Dasgupta, the  Principal Economic Adviser of their Ministry of Finance, who was quoted in the Hindu Times article. He gives this table:


I've written to ask for more information.

I agree there are reasons to be skeptical about India's self-reported costs adaptation. For example, this FAQ from the Climate Change Finance division of their Finance Ministry is heavy with discussion of adaptation financing coming from developed countries (viz. not India) for developing countries (viz. India). Just having a "Climate Change Finance" division already tells you something about where they're coming from. (That's not a comment about the morals and ethics of climate change impacts, just an observation about their emphasis.) And it's not just adaptation; in the same document as above, Dasgupta writes:
Costs: India will have to sustain a growth rate of 8-9% for the next 20 years to eradicate poverty and meet its other human development goals. Meeting the energy requirements for growth of this magnitude in a sustainable manner presents a major challenge. The need to accommodate India‟s environment pledges is expected to impact growth figures if no external financial support is extended. The investments so far have not been enough to bridge the gap in the need and availability of resources, and the future is likely to be much harder requiring massive amount of  resources, technology transfers and choices, research and development, incentives, etc. , reinforcing the fact that this ambitious pledge of 20-25% emission intensity reduction is not going to be costless.

India Now Spending More on Adaptation Than Health Care

This is notable -- the national government of India is now spending more on adapting to climate change than they are on health care.

From The Hindu newspaper:
The Union government’s spending on climate change “adaptation” is more than its spending on the health sector, said a top official of the Union Finance Ministry on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a national workshop on financing strategies for implementing State-level action plans to counter the effects of climate change, Dipak Dasgupta, Principal Economic Adviser to the ministry, said the Union government spent 2.8 per cent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010-11 on climate adaptation measures, which are intended to reduce the impact of global warming and climate change on various sections of the population.

“We have not included the expenditures on mitigating the effects of climate change,” Mr. Dasgupta pointed out.... Mr. Dasgupta, who also heads the Climate Change Finance unit in the Finance Ministry, said the expenditure on adaptive measures, as a percentage of GDP, has doubled in the last decade. Mr. Dasgupta said more than 10 per cent of the annual budget of the Union government is devoted to such expenditures across all departments.

“The unpredictable nature of the weather, especially in terms of rainfall, is one of the main problems caused by climate change,” Mr. Dasgupta said, referring to the drought this year.
[The "Union government" is India's name for its central government.]

India's 2011 GDP was $1.8 trillion, but $4.5 T on a PPP basis. So their spending on adaptation would be, if it were in the U.S. society, the equivalent of $422 billion, or $1,350 per American.

And this is for 2011, not 2030 or 2050 or 2100. India's per capita GDP (PPP) is only $3,700, so having to spend 2.8% of that on adapting to climate change is a large sacrifice -- and ought to be shameful to the developed world, especially the U.S.

The other day I calculated national contributions to total historical emissions, updating this table by The Guardian (which stops in 2004) using EIA annual national data. Through 2010, the U.S. is responsible for 28% of world emissions from fossil fuel consumption; China 8%, India 3%.

How big is the check we should be sending to India every year?

Friday, November 09, 2012

About Gas Prices (No, They're Not Higher)

Newt Gingrich admitted he was wrong about the election (he said Romney would take over 300 electoral votes; but then last December he told ABC News, “I’m going to be the nominee. It’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee”), and when explaining himself blamed, in part, gas prices:
"I was wrong," Gingrich said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" Wednesday morning. "I think you're going to find that whether it's Michael Barone or Karl Rove, the whole group of us, we all thought we understood the historical pattern and the fact that with this level of unemployment, with this level of gasoline prices, what would happen."
This is more "Republican math" done to make themselves feel better, because gas prices have not been much higher under Obama -- just 5%.

I took the weekly national average price of gas from the EIA's "This Week in Petroleum," and adjusted it for inflation via the Consumer Price Index. Here are the results for the last five administrations:


It is false that gas prices have been a lot higher under Obama -- the real increase is only 5%. On the other hand, the increase during Bush's first administration was 16%, and 56% during his second administration.

Don't believe me? The Washington Post has this chart:


Who knows where gas prices are going, but under Obama they have been just a sliver higher than under Bush. But you do have to wonder if it's just coincidence that gas prices jumped upward as they did during the eight years two oilmen ran the country.

Temperature News

GISS reports the second-warmest October since 1879. They now have the last 10 years (120) months) as 0.17°C than the previous 10 years.

With HadCRUT4's September data, the "David Rose Hole" I mentioned earlier has shrunk from 10 months to 8. (Autocorrelation not included; I'm working on that, but haven't yet figured out if lags > 1 matter to the statistical uncertainty. Can anyone point me to a paper that discusses how to calculate the effective number of degrees of freedom of a time series (equation 9 in this Tom Wigley paper) for lags up to some number M, given all the autocorrelation coefficients rk?)

Stratospheric Aerosols, via the Shuttle

Aerosol layers in the stratosphere from the Pinatubo volcanic eruption (1991), as seen by the space shuttle Atlantis:

Layer of aerosols injected into the atmosphere by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, photographed from the Space Shuttle

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Voters are the real people, my friend

The electorate speaks back to Romney: "Voters are the real people, my friend."


Paul Krugman: "...it’s also the election that lets us ask, finally, "Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?'"
For a long time, right-wingers — and some pundits — have peddled the notion that the “real America”, all that really counted, was the land of non-urban white people, to which both parties must abase themselves. Meanwhile, the actual electorate was getting racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant too. The 2008 Obama coalition wasn’t a fluke; it was the country we are becoming....

Notice too that to the extent that social issues played in this election, they played in favor of Democrats. Gods, guns, and gays didn’t swing voters into supporting corporate interests; instead, human dignity for women swung votes the other way.

Art Robinson Loses Big

In Oregon's Fourth Congressional District, climate denier Art Robinson lost big to Democrat Peter DeFazio, getting only 39.4% of the vote. Two years ago he lost to DeFazio with 44.5%, so you have to figure he's gone from the picture. (He's also 70 years old.)

His legacy will be the Oregon Petition, a wacky interview with Rachel Maddow, and a bunch of other crazy ideas like sprinkling radioactive waste over America. Quite a career.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Big Earthquake in Guatemala....

Subject: 2012-11-07 16:35:50 UPDATED: (Mww 7.4) GUATEMALA 14.1 -91.9 (2b02a)
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2012 16:56:09 +0000 (UTC)
From: ens@usgs.gov (USGS ENS)
Reply-To: <ens@usgs.gov>
To: david.appell@gmail.com


Globe with Earthquake Location

7.4 Mww - GUATEMALA

Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 7.4 Mww
Date-Time
  • 7 Nov 2012 16:35:50 UTC
  • 7 Nov 2012 10:35:50 near epicenter
  • 7 Nov 2012 08:35:50 standard time in your timezone
Location 14.083N 91.916W
Depth 41 km
Distances
  • 56 km (35 miles) SSW (206 degrees) of Retalhuleu, Retalhuleu, Guatemala
  • 61 km (38 miles) SSE (148 degrees) of Suchiate, Chiapas, Mexico
  • 66 km (41 miles) SW (221 degrees) of Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez, Guatemala
  • 95 km (59 miles) SSW (208 degrees) of Quezaltenango, Guatemala
  • 163 km (101 miles) WSW (248 degrees) of GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 15.0 km; Vertical 9.0 km
Parameters Nph = 635; Dmin = 245.1 km; Rmss = 1.17 seconds; Gp = 59°
M-type = Mww; Version = 7
Event ID us b000dlwm ***This event supersedes event AT00md4m3q.

For updates, maps, and technical information, see:
Event Page
or
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/neic/

Disclaimer

This email was sent to david.appell@gmail.com You requested mail for events between -90.0/90.0 latitude and 180.0/-180.0 longitude (Default World) for M6.0 between 00:00 and 23:00 and M6.5 other times. To change your parameters or unsubscribe, go to: https://sslearthquake.usgs.gov/ens/