Archive for October 12th, 2009
MakeUseOf.com has the list of good radio stations for your listening pleasure.
Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
Here is a summary of what the science says on each skeptic argument. Click here to view skeptic arguments by popularity.
1 "It’s the sun"
Solar activity has shown little to no long term trend since the 1950′s. Consequently, any correlation between sun and climate ended in the 1970′s when the modern global warming trend began.
2 "Climate’s changed before"
Past climate change actually demonstrates that the climate is sensitive to radiative forcing. Having determined climate sensitivity from empirical observations, scientists can calculate the climate response to CO2 forcing.
3 "There is no consensus"
That humans are causing global warming is the position of the Academies of Science from 19 countries plus many scientific organisations that study climate science. More specifically, 97% of climate scientists actively publishing climate papers endorse the consensus position.
4 "It’s cooling"
Empirical measurements of the Earth’s heat content show the planet is still accumulating heat and global warming is still happening. Surface temperatures can show short term cooling when heat is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, which has a much greater heat capacity than the air.
The blog Skeptical Science: Examining the science of global warming skepticism should be on the radar of all global warming skeptics: only here are their arguments taken seriously, examined, and (alas) found wanting. Here’s a recent post:
We’ve just perused the empirical evidence that humans are raising atmospheric CO2 levels. In earlier posts, we noted that tallying up the planet’s heat content shows that our climate is accumulating heat, proof of global warming. But is there any evidence that links the two? Is there empirical data proving that increased CO2 contributes to the energy imbalance that causes global warming?
The greenhouse gas qualities of CO2 have been known for over a century. In 1861, John Tyndal published laboratory results identifying CO2 as a greenhouse gas that absorbed heat rays (longwave radiation). Since then, the absorptive qualities of CO2 have been more precisely measured and quantified by laboratory results and radiative physics theory (Herzberg 1953, Burch 1962, Burch 1970, etc).
Satellite measurements of the change in outgoing longwave radiation
So according to lab results and radiative physics, we expect that increasing atmospheric CO2 should absorb more longwave radiation as it escapes back out to space. Has this effect been observed? The paper Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997 (Harries 2001) attempts to find out. In 1970, NASA launched the IRIS satellite that measured infrared spectra between 400 cm-1 to 1600 cm-1. In 1996, the Japanese Space Agency launched the IMG satellite which recorded similar observations. Harries 2001 compared both sets of data to discern any changes in outgoing radiation over the 26 year period. The resultant change in outgoing radiation was as follows:
Figure 1: Change in spectrum from 1970 to 1996 due to trace gases. ‘Brightness temperature’ indicates equivalent blackbody temperature (Harries 2001).
What they found was a drop in outgoing radiation at the wavelength bands that greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane (CH4) absorb energy. The change in outgoing radiation over CO2 bands was consistent with theoretical expectations. Thus the paper found “direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth’s greenhouse effect”.
This result has been confirmed by subsequent papers using the latest satellite data. Griggs 2004 compares the 1970 and 1997 spectra with additional satellite data from the NASA AIRS satellite launched in 2003. Chen 2007 extends this analysis to 2006 using data from the AURA satellite launched in 2004. Both papers found the observed differences in CO2 bands matched the expected changes based on rising CO2 levels. Thus we have empirical evidence that increased CO2 is preventing longwave radiation from escaping out to space.
Measurements of downward longwave radiation
What happens to longwave radiation that gets absorbed by greenhouse gases? The energy heats the atmosphere which in turn re-radiates longwave radiation. This re-radiated energy goes in all directions. Some of it makes its way back to the surface of the earth. Hence we expect to find increasing downward longwave radiation as CO2 levels increase.
Philipona 2004 finds that this is indeed the case – that downward longwave radiation is increasing due to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Evans 2006 takes this analysis further. By analysing high resolution spectral data, the increase in downward radiation can be quantitatively attributed to each of several anthropogenic gases. The results lead the authors to conclude that “this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.”
So we have multiple lines of empirical evidence for CO2 warming. Lab tests show CO2 absorbing longwave radiation. Satellite measurements confirm that less longwave radiation is escaping to space. Surface measurements detect increased longwave radiation returning back to Earth at wavelengths matching increased CO2 warming. And of course the result of this energy imbalance is the accumulation of heat over the last 40 years.
Acknowledgements: A big thanks must go to AGW Observer. Their lists of papers on changes in outgoing longwave radiation, changes in downward longwave radiation and laboratory measurements of CO2 absorption properties made this post possible.
- 57% of British consumers purchased one or more books last year,
compared to only 50% of Americans;
- Mystery and Romance books accounted for a whopping 57% of all fiction
books purchased by Americans last year, versus just 31% of fiction
purchases in Great Britain;
- Men were less important to the adult fiction market in the U.S. (29%
of purchases) than in Britain (40%) in 2008;
- The #1 channel for books in the U.S. is the Internet (23% of books
purchased), while the dominant channel in Great Britain continues to be
retail bookstore chains (34%).
I do like the Borowitz Report. Check out what he has now on his site.
The planet is heating up, thanks to human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases. But as a new NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” (subs. req’d, release here) concluded:
[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.
Note that this Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres study was done “without using global climate models.”
Figure 1: “Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”
That figure comes from the first of two posts by the terrific website Skeptical Science, which I repost below. Skeptical Science is an excellent, well-organized site to send convincible people for a shredding of the standard, long-debunked denier talking points.
Now I’m sure the deniers and delayers out there are shrieking, “There are peer reviewed analyses that document that upper ocean warming has halted since 2003!” — a claim I dealt with in my July post, “Like father, like son: Roger Pielke Sr. also doesn’t understand the science of global warming — or just chooses to willfully misrepresent it.”
Subsequently, however, another JGR article, “Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003–2008” (subs. req’d, draft here) details an analysis of “monthly gridded global temperature and salinity fields from the near-surface layer down to 2000 m depth based on Argo measurements.” Background on Argo here. Their findings are summed up in this figure:
Figure : Time series of global mean heat storage (0–2000 m), measured in 108 Jm-2.
Still warming, after all these years! And just where you’d expect it. The study makes clear that upper ocean heat content, perhaps not surprisingly, is simply far more variable than deeper ocean heat content, and thus an imperfect indicator of the long-term warming trend.
UPDATE: Yes, I am aware of the recent upper-ocean heat content data on the web. Please note that plots of very recent, highly variable upper-ocean content heat data down to 700 meters from unpeer-reviewed sources do not trump peer-reviewed analysis of much longer-term data down to 2000 m. Is it too much to ask people to actually read this entire post before posting comments?
What follows is a repost of two articles from Skeptical Science discussing these figures and the recent studies in more detail: …
This post is well worth reading in its entirety. The update is put first—the post itself begins:
NBC just did a piece about today’s gay rights march in Washington. For the political context of the gay community’s ire, NBC went to Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood. Harwood was asked if the White House was worried about "the left as a whole," and concerns they have that the White House isn’t doing things that "the left" expected them to do. Harwood said the following:
Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the Internet left fringe.
Harwood then went on to say:
For a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.
So the gay community, and its concerns about President Obama’s inaction, and backtracking, on DADT and DOMA, are now, according to President Obama’s White House, part of a larger "fringe" that acts like small children who play in their pajamas and need to grow up. (And a note to our readers: The White House just included all of you in that loony "left fringe.")
I wonder how the Human Rights Campaign is going to explain how the White House just knifed our community less than 24 hours after he went to their dinner and claimed he was our friend.
Someone in that White House needs to be fired. Here’s the video: …
Very interesting book review at The Simple Dollar:
I’ve always been interested in the areas where spirituality and personal finance meet. Blogs like ChristianPF and people like Dave Ramsey who heavily tie their faith into their personal finance message bring a completely different flavor to the table, one tinged with a sense that personal finance success is a method of getting more deeply in touch with one’s spiritual side and that there is a faith-based calling to better money management.
It’s Not About the Money by Brent Kessel takes another angle on the tension between money management and spirituality. Kessel is a Zen Buddhist who practices yoga and spends much of his time seeking spiritual enlightenment. His argument is that in order to find spiritual abundance, one must be free as possible from the shackles of personal finance, and that requires good money behaviors and money management.
Throughout the book, Kessel ties together the principles of Zen Buddhism and the principles of personal finance, making a great case for how the two walk hand in hand towards a life of true abundance.
Let’s dig in.
You Will Never Have Enough
Our nature, as humans, is to want more. We’re always looking ahead to the next journey, the next goal, the next desire. We always have a concern of some kind in our hearts and we’re always headed towards something. You’ll never have enough.
That seems to run contrary to most personal finance advice, which encourages you to figure out what “enough” is in your own life. Yet, on many levels, I think Kessel is quite accurate with this assessment. There’s always some new journey to take on, some hill to climb.
Our real challenge in life is not eliminating that desire for more, but figuring out what goals we have. What are we really striving for? What provides us with the most thorough joy? Those are the directions we should be striving for – it’s fine to strive for more in an area where you’re thoroughly and deeply passionate and engaged.
The Unconscious Wins Every Time
We all have a story about ourselves in our mind that determines what we think we deserve. That sense of what we think we deserve drives how we manage our money…
The president is currently repeating his belief that torture is always wrong and yet his own administration has just continued the prosecution of a Gitmo detainee we gave long known was innocent of anything. Obama has indeed ended torture going forward and deserves mad props for that; but he has so balked at holding America accountable for the past that he has come close at times to being complicit in the war crimes of his predecessor. The case of Fouad al-Rabiah is one such instance. It’s such an appalling story, such a betrayal of the American idea, that it still beggars belief. I’ve written about this on the Dish before but my column today tries to sum it up in one digestible piece:
Very interesting post at Real Climate, which begins:
Last week, a UK High Court judge rejected a call to restrict the showing of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) in British schools. The judge, Justice Burton found that “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate” (which accords with our original assessment). There has been a lot of comment and controversy over this decision because of the judges commentary on 9 alleged “errors” (note the quotation marks!) in the movie’s description of the science. The judge referred to these as ‘errors’ in quotations precisely to emphasize that, while these were points that could be contested, it was not clear that they were actually errors (see Deltoid for more on that).
There are a number of points to be brought out here. First of all, “An Inconvenient Truth” was a movie and people expecting the same depth from a movie as from a scientific paper are setting an impossible standard. Secondly, the judge’s characterisation of the 9 points is substantially flawed. He appears to have put words in Gore’s mouth that would indeed have been wrong had they been said (but they weren’t). Finally, the judge was really ruling on how “Guidance Notes” for teachers should be provided to allow for more in depth discussion of these points in the classroom. This is something we wholehearted support – AIT is probably best used as a jumping off point for informed discussion, but it is not the final word. Indeed, the fourth IPCC report has come out in the meantime, and that has much more up-to-date and comprehensive discussions on all these points.
A number of discussions of the 9 points have already been posted (particularly at New Scientist and Michael Tobis’s wiki), and it is clear that the purported ‘errors’ are nothing of the sort. The (unofficial) transcript of the movie should be referred to if you have any doubts about this. It is however unsurprising that the usual climate change contrarians and critics would want to exploit this confusion for perhaps non-scientific reasons.
In the spirit of pushing forward the discussion, we have a brief set of guidance notes of our own for each of the 9 issues raised. These are not complete, and if additional pointers are noted in the comments, we’ll add them in here as we go along:
The Franken Amendment passed, but the curious fact is that 30 Senators, all male, voted against it. Trish Kinney describes the amendment and its genesis in this note at Huffington Post:
Senator Al Franken got my attention and the attention of a lot of other people who care about sexual abuse and violence, with the passing of his Senate Amendment 2566. The Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill provides for the withholding of federal funds from contractors who continue to apply binding arbitration clauses in employment contracts. It was such a clause that prevented Ms. Jamie Leigh Jones from having her day in court after she was allegedly gang raped and locked in a shipping container in Iraq for two days while employed by a subsidiary of Halliburton. Ms. Jones was present at the hearing. I will leave the commentary of Senator Franken’s budding political career and those who opposed his amendment to others more qualified than myself.
Instead I offer this video clip of the proceeding so that you may witness the following:
1. An elected public official taking a stand for a victim of brutal sexual violence by ensuring, through legislation, that no other defense contract worker will ever be denied the inherent benefit of seeking justice through the judicial system.
2. A survivor of brutal sexual violence empowered by the support and acknowledgment of an elected public official dedicated to ensuring her rights as a woman and a citizen of the United States.
3. The firm silencing of the voice of those who feel that their private, secret brand of justice, called binding arbitration, is adequate and appropriate.
4. A glowing tribute to the brave crusader for justice by the elected public official citing her courage and persistence as well as his honor to have taken part.
Thanks, Senator Franken, for giving us these images. It’s a brilliant start.
The amendment passed with strong support, but what about those 30 Senators who voted against it? Do they have any empathy and compassion at all? What if their daughters were gang-raped—would they be satisfied with binding arbitration using arbitrators hired by the company whose employees did the rape?
I was curious, so I decided to see how many of those Senators have daughters of their own. They are all Republicans and male, you’ll notice.
Alexander (R-TN) – two daughters
Barrasso (R-WY) – two daughters
Bond (R-MO) – no daughter
Brownback (R-KS) – three daughters
Bunning (R-KY) – five daughters
Burr (R-NC) – no daughter
Chambliss (R-GA) – one daughter
Coburn (R-OK) – three daughters
Cochran (R-MS) – ?
Corker (R-TN) – two daughters
Cornyn (R-TX) – two daughters
Crapo (R-ID) – three daughters
DeMint (R-SC) – ? (four children)
Ensign (R-NV) – one daughter
Enzi (R-WY) – two daughters
Graham (R-SC) – none (adopted his sister)
Gregg (R-NH) – two daughters
Inhofe (R-OK) – 4 children, at least one daughter
Isakson (R-GA) – one daughter
Johanns (R-NE) – one daughter
Kyl (R-AZ) – one daughter
McCain (R-AZ) – two daughters, one adopted
McConnell (R-KY) – three daughters
Risch (R-ID) – no daughters
Roberts (R-KS) – two daughters
Sessions (R-AL) – two daughters
Shelby (R-AL) – one daughter
Thune (R-SD) – two daughters
Vitter (R-LA) – three daughters
Wicker (R-MS) – two daughters
Critical illness among Canadian patients with 2009 influenza A(H1N1) occurred rapidly after hospital admission, often in young adults, and was associated with severely low levels of oxygen in the blood, multi-system organ failure, a need for prolonged mechanical ventilation, and frequent use of rescue therapies, according to a study to appear in the November 4 issue of JAMA. This study is being published early online to coincide with its presentation at a meeting of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Infection with the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) virus has been reported in virtually every country in the world. The World Health Organization declared the first phase six (phase indicating widespread human infection) global influenza pandemic of the century on June 11, 2009. The largest number of confirmed cases occurred in North America between March and July 2009, according to background information in the article.
Anand Kumar, M.D., of the Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and colleagues with the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group H1N1 Collaborative conducted an observational study of critically ill patients with 2009 influenza A(H1N1) in 38 adult and pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) in Canada between April 16 and August 12, 2009. The study focused on the death rate at 28 and 90 days, as well as the frequency and duration of mechanical ventilation and the duration of ICU stay.
The researchers found that a total of 168 patients had confirmed or probable 2009 influenza A(H1N1) infection and became critically ill during this time period, and 24 (14.3 percent) died within the first 28 days from the onset of critical illness. Five more patients died within 90 days. The average age of the patients with confirmed or probable 2009 influenza A(H1N1) was 32.3 years, 113 were female (67.3 percent), and 50 were children (29.8 percent).
"Our data suggest that severe disease and mortality in the current outbreak is concentrated in relatively healthy adolescents and adults between the ages of 10 and 60 years, a pattern reminiscent of the W-shaped curve [rise and fall in the population mortality rate for the disease, corresponding to age at death] previously seen only during the 1918 H1N1 Spanish pandemic," the authors write.
I have now moved Megs totally to canned food, and the FortiFlora has been a great help. She will remain with canned food until my meat grinder arrives. In the meantime, I have trouble telling just how much she is eating: she mushes the food around the bowl, and she’s clearly eaten some, but how much?
So I’ve started weighing the full bowl, writing that down, and then weighing the bowl again after she’s eaten, before I clean it out for the next meal. So last night I know that she ate 1.9 oz. (She weighs about 8.2 lbs, 7 years old.) I’ll keep track over this week, and not only will I get assurance that she’s eating enough, I’ll also know how much homemade food to put in little individual serving freezer baggies.