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Open Thread Plus Doonesbury

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A cyber-penny for your thoughts.

Doonesbury

The full week of Doonesbury myFACTS starts here.

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45 Responses to Open Thread Plus Doonesbury

  1. climatehawk1 says:

    If you’re in the U.S. or Canada, join Citizens’ Climate Lobby. In the U.S., they are pushing for an escalating carbon tax, with the proceeds returned to all Americans annually in the form of a dividend. Specific legislation is HR 3242, the Save Our Climate Act. If you’re concerned about global warming, it is important to show support for this legislation whether you think it is perfect or not.

    Let’s see, what else for an open thread? Truly excellent video on weather and steroids can be found here. Please propagate to the best of your ability.

    • Gestur says:

      Climatehawk1, thanks for this important, timely reminder!

      • climatehawk1 says:

        Thanks! I’ll try to be here regularly with a reminder/invitation. Persistence counts.

        • Gestur says:

          Damn straight, Climatehawk1.

          It also strikes me that if any of you have thought about following the lead of Jeff Huggins and taking it a step further and threatening to not vote for Obama unless and until he starts campaigning seriously to reign in our carbon emissions, now’s the time to issue that threat. It isn’t going to do much good later in the fall.

          I attended my local Democratic caucus this past week and I came back from that experience with both the sure knowledge that this is it for me—I have to push this and push it hard—and that I finally had the energy to do so. And so I wrote up my argument and so far I’ve sent it to my local state Senator and my Congressman and a whole lot of my friends. Both my Senators will be hearing from me as well. And I’d say that Bill McKibben’s recent piece in the Guardian Unlimited more or less punched me over the line here when he wrote:

          “Telling the truth about climate change would require pulling away the biggest punchbowl in history, right when the party is in full swing. That’s why the fight is so pitched. That’s why those of us battling for the future need to raise our game.”

          As Jeff has urged us in his many posts here, I’d also like to suggest that you consider this, and for the same reason that Jeff has noted: they simply will not move from their political comfort zone unless threatened with loss of your vote.

  2. Wes Rolley says:

    After watching HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud on the Charlie Rose show recently, I began to wonder whether there is a connection between Prince Alwaleed’s friendship with the Murdoch family and the position that News Corp affiliates take regarding burning fossil fuels. It may be subtle, not direct quid pro quo, but real nevertheless. The Kingdom Holding Company’s original cash infusion into News Corp was over US $600 Million.

  3. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    In today’s Doonesbury, Trudeau puts Austin of myFacts up against a left-wing conspiracy, to which he counters with a right-wing one.
    http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/archive/2012/02/11

  4. Dave says:

    Some energy efficiency questions about snow on roofs for those who know something about physics. There are competing opinions out there, and most don’t seem to address the real-world dynamics of snow and buildings.

    Is snow on the roof good for building energy efficiency? This is assuming that roof loads and ice dams are not issues for the building in question.

    Does the insulating effect of snow outweigh the loss of solar gain due to increased reflectivity? Some researchers at MIT are making temperature sensitive roof panels that change from dark to white with increasing temperature. Is this a generally good idea, or does it depend on local sun, snow, and temperature ranges? Should I put dark blue tarps over my roof in the fall like a good Montana redneck?

    Does the fact that snow is a giant cold pack atop your house cancel its insulation value? Seems this would hinge on outside temperature – above freezing temps could negate insulation value of snow, since the snow would then be insulating from warmer outside air temperatures and directly cooling the house, right? So should I shovel the snow off my roof in the early spring?

    Has anyone done real-world research on these questions?

    • Anoyomus says:

      (If you have snow, & with the intent of being helpful): A well insulated building roof will hold the snow comparatively to what stays on the ground in areas with similar wind exposure and heat absorption characteristics as the roof surface. Building codes take snow loads into account (think: unheated buildings). In any event, snow is not so much an “ice pack” as it is insulation. It presence adds to a reduction in heat transfer. Albedo-shifting roofing panels are, re the desire to reduce solar heat gain for the planet, wrong headed. The “best” roof is a white roof. And every doubling of the insulation in a building structure’s component cuts the conductive heat transfer in half (in both directions). Snow’s longevity on the roof of a heated building, compared to an unheated one, is a metric for assessing the need to add more insulation; identifying a need to seal up air leaks from the heated space into an attic (if any). In a well insulated building, and if there is an attic, its temperature should be very close to the outdoor ambient temperature, and on a year-around basis.

    • catman306 says:

      Wikipedia says that the R value of snow is R-1, not much.

      “Vacuum insulated panels have the highest R-value (approximately R–45 per inch in American customary units); aerogel has the next highest R-value (about R–10-30 per inch), followed by isocyanurate and phenolic foam insulations with, R–8.3 and R–7 per inch, respectively. They are followed closely by polyurethane and polystyrene insulation at roughly R–6 and R–5 per inch. Loose cellulose, fiberglass (both blown and in batts), and rock wool (both blown and in batts) all possess an R-value of roughly R–-2.5 to R–-4 per inch. Straw bales perform at about R–1.5. However, typical straw bale houses have very thick walls and thus are well insulated. Snow is roughly R–1. Brick has a very bad insulative ability at a mere R–0.2, however it does have a good Thermal mass.”

      Hope that helps.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_(insulation)

  5. Robert says:

    While I totally agree with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in principal, it is easy to predict that it will fail just because people don’t want fuel taxes now in exchange for the promise of money down the road. They instinctively know that they will get less than they pay out. People like to believe in things like life after death and not that hell on earth is knocking at our door. Arab Spring uprisings are the exception to the rule requiring unusual extremes, such as spending half your money on food. Like #occupy, unless the midddle and lower classes jump on board, nothing happens until it is too late.

    • climatehawk1 says:

      Predict whatever you like. Then join CCL and call your Congressperson to request that he/she cosponsor HR 3242. All U.S. House of Representatives offices can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Gotta start someplace.

  6. For those who may have missed it, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization where corporations are able to vote on model legislation that later gets pushed at the state level, has been responsible for model legislation that would teach climate skepticism as an alternative to climate science, legislation that has consequently been pushed in at least six different states.

    From DesmogBlog:

    On January 16, the Los Angeles Times revealed that anti-science bills have been popping up over the past several years in statehouses across the U.S., mandating the teaching of climate change denial or “skepticism” as a credible “theoretical alternative” to human caused climate change came.

    ALEC Model Bill Behind Push To Require Climate Denial Instruction In Schools, Steve Horn (DesmogBlog) 26 January 2012
    http://www.desmogblog.com/alec-model-bill-behind-push-require-climate-denial-instruction-schools

    DesmogBlog’s Steve Horn continues:

    The Trojan Horse in this case is an Orwellian titled model bill, the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act.”[PDF]

    The bill was adopted by ALEC’s Natural Resources Task Force, today known as the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, at ALEC’s Spring Task Force Summit on May 5, 2000 — it was then approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors in June of 2000.

    The bill’s opening clause reads [PDF], “The purpose of this act is to enhance and improve the environmental literacy of students and citizens in the state by requiring that all environmental education programs and activities conducted by schools, universities, and agencies shall…”

    “Provide a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner.”
    “Provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific and economic controversies.”
    ….
    “Encourage students to explore different perspectives and form their own opinions.”
    “Encourage an atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas.”

    ibid.

    ALEC represents a large number of corporate interests, many of which have made their wealth in fossil fuel. As I stated recently:

    The corporate board includes Koch Companies Public Sector, but it also includes Energy Future Holdings Corp. and Peabody Energy. Other corporate members include Alliant Energy, American Electric Power, Amoco (which merged with BP), ARCO (which merged with BP), Arizona Public Service Company (which is into coal), Artemis Exploration (Canadian oil), Ashland Oil, and Atmos Energy. And those are just the fossil fuel companies corporate members that begin with A. I won’t both people with the other twenty-five letters.

    Please see:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Legislative_Exchange_Council

  7. prokaryotes says:

    The Smoking Gun: Plot by Fossil Fuel Giant to Further Corrupt Aussie Media Exposed http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-f-bruno/the-smoking-gun-plot-by-f_b_1263148.html?ref=tw

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Case Study: Anthony Watts and Info-Fascism in Action http://climateforce.net/2012/02/11/1417/

  9. prokaryotes says:

    The Tesla Model X (4.4 sec to 100) Revolution in automobile History http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lfzvNLR1Pc4

    Tesla Model X: Era of the all-electric SUV is arriving (+video) http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2012/0210/Tesla-Model-X-Era-of-the-all-electric-SUV-is-arriving-video

    • prokaryotes says:

      Electric cars will rule the world, not because they are greener, but because they own combustion engine vehicles (faster, more space cause smaller engine and more efficient).

      This is the key technology for the 2nd industrial revolution.

      • Robert says:

        Electric cars are expensive to begin with and require a $10,000 battery replacement after 4 years. Maybe if they’re built in China by slaves they may find acceptance.

        • catman306 says:

          “Overall, the Department of Energy is partnering with industry to reduce the manufacturing cost of advanced batteries. While a typical battery for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a 40-mile electric range cost $12,000 in 2008, we’re on track to demonstrate technology by 2015 that would reduce the cost to $3,600. And last year, we set a goal of demonstrating technology by 2020 that would further reduce the cost to $1,500 – an accomplishment that could help spur the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles.”

          http://www.treehugger.com/cars/electric-car-batteries-track-drop-price-70-2015-says-energy-secretary.html

        • Lou Grinzo says:

          Replacement in 4 years? Gee, troll much, Robert?

          One of the pleasant pieces of news regarding batteries in hybrids, including the original Insight which goes back further than most people realize (look it up) is that 10 year life spans for batteries aren’t unusual.

          • climatehawk1 says:

            Some firsthand experience:
            - My daughter has an Insight (1999, I think). Its batteries just failed, but it had only about 20,000 miles on it, so had not been driven much (bad for the batteries). Cost about $2,000 (oops, not $10,000) to replace. (She gets about 70 mpg in summer, and was getting over 50 while the batteries were shut down and she was running on gas alone.
            - We have a 2001 Prius, 180,000 miles, no replacement yet.
            - We also have a 2005 Prius and a 2010 Insight, stay tuned.

        • prokaryotes says:

          Robert, you have to factor the “True cost to own” (Which does not include less Co2 foot prints, which lessen costs for everyone).

          Excerpts from above link..

          Depending on features, the Model X is expected to cost in the range of $55,000 to $75,000

          AMP Electric Vehicles in Loveland, Ohio. The company offers modified versions of traditional models from brands like Jeep and Mercedes, substituting a battery system for gasoline-combustion components. The company calls its newly unveiled version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee “proof positive that an SUV can also be 100% electric.”

          the auto website Edmunds.com finds that the $41,000 cash price of Nissan’s electric Leaf has a “true cost to own” of less than $7,400 per year over five years. That’s similar to the cost of a traditional sedan like the Nissan Altima, with a cash price of about $20,000.

          The “true cost to own” includes everything from gas and car payments to insurance and estimated maintenance.

          • prokaryotes says:

            Also your electric car doesn’t make your child vulnerable to carcinogenic car exhaust and does not cause acid rain.

            Don’t inhale car fumes it lowers your IQ and can cause heart strokes.

  10. John Tucker says:

    Here is another example of why I get so irritated with the anti nuclear movement :

    Two stories:

    Nuclear power to blow the wall

    Bottleneck in the record winter? Absolutely not. Germany exported power while he is in France nuclear country just because of all the electric heaters.

    [ google translated] ( http://www.taz.de/Energiewende-im-Praxistest/!87007/ )

    Clean-Energy-Loving Germany Increasingly Exporting Electricity to Nuclear-Heavy France ( http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/09/clean-energy-loving-germany-increasingly-exporting-electricity-to-nuclear-heavy-france/ )

    Oh how terrible – right? First of all France traditionally depended on Germany to make up its power shortages in times of heavy use – (France is nearly all electric heat – Germany is mostly gas heat) [this was a record also http://www.connexionfrance.com/France-freeze-ice-Sochaux-hydro-wind-power-13438-view-article.html ]

    Germany couldn’t cut it just on its renewables or its increased NG capacity:

    Germany forced to tap into coal-power reserves

    Germany was forced on Wednesday to draw on its reserves for producing electricity for the second time this winter as Europe is gripped by a severe cold snap.

    Under the reserve plan, five generators in Germany have been designated, which are powered by coal or gas and normally not in operation, as well as several in neighbouring Austria. ( http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Germany+forced+into+coal+power+reserves/6125777/story.html )

    UK briefly to be France’s main power imports source

    Last year, overall French power imports from Germany nearly halved, while those from the UK rose by 90 percent.

    French electricity demand is sensitive to changes in weather conditions as a one degree Celcius drop in temperatures causes a 2,300 MW rise in demand, driven by the fact that around 30 percent French homes use electricity for heating. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/06/france-britain-imports-idUSL5E8D62B620120206 )

    Beyond ridiculous renewables sales pitches it would be nice to know how well German wind is doing with respect to efficiency and the need for gas co generation. It would be nice to know how well everything is doing in a time of highest use post recession.

    And what about using NG for heat/cooking on a national level? Is that a good idea or is electric better?

    A straight honest answer would be nice. I dont have time for sales pitches and we are obviously so incredibly far away from where we need to be on renewables or nuclear installs its just irritating.

    People should know : any king of mistake/cover-up is only going to be exposed eventually in the long term, but after it does harm.

    Again, as we learned with nuclear and all energy industries a long time ago, and banking rather recently, letting an industry police itself is a recipe for disaster. Even the goodness and light renewables industry and die hard advocates are probably up to no good in some respects.

  11. John Tucker says:

    On a more cheerful note – here is something I cannot fathom why the US didn’t take the lead in (this is what we cant achieve with the right dragging us down) The Germans are getting rather impressive in the evolution of their design.:

    Around the world in a solar car ( http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57374421-48/around-the-world-in-a-solar-car/ )

    ( http://www.hochschule-bochum.de/en/solarcar/the-project.html )

    Even though its not what we are used to – its an interesting endeavor.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Automobile Revolution: Elon Musk describes the Tesla Model X http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfMHU9aAqec

    • John Tucker says:

      Its a very well done, roomy, sweet vehicle. If they can get prices down and production up it will really go. Its better designed than any vehicle out there, gas or whatever IMHO.

  13. wili says:

    Have people noticed the level of methane over the Arctic in January?

    ftp://asl.umbc.edu/pub/yurganov/methane/MAPS/NH/ARCTpolar2012.01._AIRS_CH4_400.jpg

    Compared with last year’s level for the same month:

    ftp://asl.umbc.edu/pub/yurganov/methane/MAPS/NH/ARCTpolar2011.01._AIRS_CH4_400.jpg

    Should we start getting worried yet?

    Also, here’s an interesting article that I would love to hear people’s responses to:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-currier/methane-in-the-twilight-z_2_b_1256215.html

    • John Tucker says:

      Generally the areas around spikes are warmer. As la Nina subsides we could be in for some surprises in Ch4 and CO2.

    • John Tucker says:

      Oh yea, sorry, that seems impressive.

    • John Tucker says:

      gas gas and more gas:

      Drillers cut natural gas production as prices drop

      Last month, Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City said it is reducing the number of new dry gas drilling rigs from 47 to 24 this year. In addition, it immediately cut existing production by about 500 billion cubic feet per day, adding that if low prices persist, it may double the cut, to 1 billion cubic feet per day.

      A government report issued last week predicted that at the end of March, the amount of natural gas that companies are storing is expected to be the highest since 1983. Those unsold reserves could push prices even further down. ( http://online.wsj.com/article/AP3e0b9812cd1c44829710ea9dba98efec.html )

  14. John Tucker says:

    We have been seeing a lot of this lately, and its a cold February in Europe – coldest in 20 years in some places.

    Danube River Freezes over Bulgaria’s Silistra ( http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=136558 )

    Burrrr : but for a more milder weather go north:

    Iceland enjoys unusually warm winter weather
    ( http://youtu.be/0msxvoIBDRw )

    It will be interesting to see how things play out this summer in the arctic and everywhere.

  15. Brian R Smith says:

    Perhaps you had the same children’s book: The Wind & the Sun are looking down on a man walking along a country road and the Wind boasts that he, not the Sun, can make the man take off his coat. Yes, the harder the Wind blows the tighter the man pulls his coat around himself and in the end the Sun’s warmth wins out. Correct analysis of the man’s comfort zone and how to use that knowledge to best effect!

    We have to deal with the President we have, with the resources we have, in the time we have. The suggestions by Jeff H and others here that the climate and environmental communities, and the Democratic party, should organize a serious voter campaign focusing on withdrawing 2012 support from Obama if he fails to start speaking for climate/energy reality policy – have a noble purpose and appeal to the notion that standing on principle requires, finally, threats that presumably will be effective. I see no evidence, in light of political realities, that this approach would be effective, even if the advocates had a plan (and leadership commitment) for taking it beyond rhetoric – which seems to be absent, or at least fatally short on detail. Merely repeating the concept is not an argument for expectations of success.

    On the other hand, if the strategy is to pave the way for leadership by a) voting in a progressive Congress, b) radically raising public awareness of the crisis and paths to transition and c), disarming the science-denial and disinformation machine…then we are in territory where tactics are known and expectations of success can be measured.

    Success in these efforts would mean a complete turnaround in US climate policy and thus the renewal of expectations for international agreements. It would mean that legislation could go forward and that R&D, investment & deployment in renewables would accelerate rapidly with increased confidence in business & finance. It would be the political tipping point we dream about. And it comes in definable, doable actions that are in need of high level organizing/coordination that may or may not be in the pipe.

    The 1st among priorities is raising public awareness, it’s the key to the rest. Joe and CAP and scores of others are laying the foundations. The most important thing missing, in my book, is a major address to the nation from climate scientists. This, in tandem with an intense voter drive at the state & local levels is essential.

  16. Chris Winter says:

    Some book notes:

    A new book by Bill Press, The Obama Hate Machine, has a chapter on the Koch brothers. I haven’t read the book yet, but based on the author’s earlier work it will be well written and well researched.

    Regarding Obama’s presidency in general, Ron Suskind recently did Confidence Men about Obama’s advisers and Wall Street. Suskind is one of the best journalists in America today.

    Finally, for those of you in Canada, THIS CRAZY TIME: Living our Environmental Challenge may be inspiring. It’s by Tzeporah Berman, who’s fairly high up in Greenpeace. In it she writes, “So this isn’t a book to convince you of the dangers of climate change. [***] This is a book that will, I hope, help you to get off your butt so you can kick some—starting with your nearest politician’s.”

  17. catman306 says:

    Conservatism Thrives on Low Intelligence and Poor Information
    There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood.

    “These are the perfect conditions for a billionaires’ feeding frenzy. Any party elected by misinformed, suggestible voters becomes a vehicle for undisclosed interests. A tax break for the 1% is dressed up as freedom for the 99%. The regulation that prevents big banks and corporations exploiting us becomes an assault on the working man and woman. Those of us who discuss man-made climate change are cast as elitists by people who happily embrace the claims of Lord Monckton, Lord Lawson or think tanks funded by Exxon-Mobil or the Koch brothers: now the authentic voices of the working class.”

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154082/conservatism_thrives_on_low_intelligence_and_poor_information

  18. This is in relation to the older story on the ozone hole:

    Masters on “Unprecedented” Arctic Ozone Hole: Inaction Risks “Future Nasty Climate Change Surprises Far More Serious”
    By Joe Romm on Oct 9, 2011
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/09/339868/masters-arctic-ozone-hole-future-nasty-climate-change-surprises/

    I just did a little checking, and it actually turns out that in a 1998 Nature paper an Arctic ozone hole was predicted for the decade of 2010-2019 that would be partly due to global warming, although according to the authors, the hole might persist well beyond this.

    The paper states regarding its model predictions:

    Radiative cooling by increasing greenhouse gases by itself causes area-weighted temperature decreases of ~1-2 K poleward of 70° from altitudes of 200 to 50 mb during 2010-2019 in the winter in both hemispheres, relative to the control run. In the Northern Hemisphere, the reduced frequency of stratospheric warmings adds to the radiative cooling, resulting in total temperature decreases within the enhanced Arctic vortex of 5-7 K during December and January. Large ozone losses in February and March exert a sizeable positive feedback, so that modeled temperatures are 8-10 K colder in the greenhouse run owing to combined radiative, dynamical, and chemical influences.

    Shindell, D.T., D. Rind, and P. Lonergan, 1998: Increased polar stratospheric ozone losses and delayed eventual recovery owing to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. Nature, 392, 589-592, doi:10.1038/33385.
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi?id=sh04000r

  19. prokaryotes says:

    Threats..

    Science Weekly podcast: Will climate change unleash geological mayhem?
    Volcanologist Bill McGuire describes how rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets as a result of climate change could trigger volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/audio/2012/feb/13/science-weekly-podcast-climate-change

    • prokaryotes says:

      The centre of Greenland is below sea level. Research published in the last 3 years, suggest we can sea a seismic responds from Greenland ice melt and corresponding mass distribution.

      The last ice age deglaciation saw 50% uptake in earthquakes. There have been magnitude 8 earthquake in northern parts of scandinavia and Tsunamis within the north atlantic basin. Models show 30 meter tsunamis.

      Another outcome of the mass distribution, from thawing ice to phase change to water, changes the speed the earth rotates.

      • prokaryotes says:

        We already see a respond, in alaska for example – earthquakes or landslides.

        Another question, how should we respond? Aggressive actions today could help prevent Greenland ice melt.

        Will climate change cause earthquakes?
        Bill McGuire, author of ‘Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes’, discusses the topics raised in his book.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbF_YlxbA3c

  20. prokaryotes says:

    Just a warning: we’re really really going to need you (and everyone you know) beginning noontime monday

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/keystone-xl-protests_b_1270368.html

  21. Max says:

    I think you should request space in the NY Times to respond to Nocera’s response to you. In the past I had thought of Nocera as one of the NY Times better writers but he is seriously off the mark here. It continues to amaze me that people like Nocera seem to think that humanity’s alteration of the composition of the atmosphere is something that can just be ignored-as if the facts of chemistry can be argued with and as if BAU leads anywhere other than a cliff.

  22. Raul M. says:

    with the return of the negative arctic oscillation the southeast US has very cold temps. Had to happen somewhere.
    But Greenland?
    Weather Channel forecast for tomorrow for two cities in Greenland is a mid morning high of 60 degrees F.
    Would that be a record for the highest above average temp. for mid Feb. Umm it’s winter weather there.
    Cognitive dissonance has a new format with the changes in weather. What used to be a crazy talk is current events in weather.
    Cities in Greenland see 60 degrees in the midst of winter