Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slight Severe Risk (mostly-nice weekend shaping up for central MN)

16 (preliminary) tornadoes so far in Minnesota in 2011. 1,425 tornadoes nationwide, as of June 2. (SPC).

Slight Severe Storm risk today, best chance of strong/severe storms north/east of St. Cloud.

84 degrees predicted today; the mercury may hit 90 south/west over southern Minnesota. Today will be only the 4th day in 2011 warmer than 80 F.

Nice Weekend. Slightly cooler, highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, but the sun should be out most of the time with a dip in humidity. A PM instability shower can't be ruled out, especially up north, Saturday & Sunday afternoon.
Saturday Winds: West 10-15 (barometer holding nearly steady).
Sunday Winds: West/southwest 5-10 (slowly falling barometer).

The United (Severe) States of America. According to SPC, the USA has seen 1,425 tornadoes as of June 2. In addition: 5,150 reports of large, damaging hail and 7,068 separate reports of damaging straight-line winds. The red dots are tornado touchdowns, green = hail and blue = high (straight-line) winds.

Preliminary Tornado Count. 1,425 tornadoes so far - a preliminary number, and what's striking about this map is the (apparent) eastward shift in "Tornado Alley". I'm amazed by the shear number of tornado reports east of the Mississippi. Click here to see the raw data from SPC, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Minnesota Numbers: So far 16 (preliminary) tornadoes in Minnesota; that number will probably come down (some of these may have been the same tornado, viewed from different perspectives, rather than separate tornadoes). 78 reports of large hail (1" diameter or larger) and 41 reports of damaging straight-line winds.

Slight Severe Storm Threat. According to SPC, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, conditions for large hail and potentially violent winds (straight-line and tornadic) will be greatest north/east of the Twin Cities later today. There may be just enough hot, dry air to keep the atmosphere over much of southern Minnesota "capped", preventing a widespread outbreak in the immediate metro area. That said, it may be a very close call - stay alert later today for possible watches and warnings.

Heaviest Rains Up North. The best chance of heavy/severe T-storms will come north of St. Cloud and Hinckley over the next 24-36 hours, more than .5 to .75" rain from Detroit Lakes and Brainerd to Grand Rapids and Duluth.

A Fine Saturday. A weak cool frontal boundary should push south/east of Minnesota tomorrow, the heaviest T-storms rumbling from Des Mones to Chicago and Indianapolis. A pool of unusually chilly air aloft may set off a few PM showers and T-showers over far northwestern Minnesota, but dry weather should be the rule across the rest of Minnesota tomorrow, a light west breeze (8-15 mph), less humidity, highs ranging from upper 70s north to low 80s south. NAM map above valid 7 pm Saturday evening, showing accumulated rain for the previous 6 hours, from 1 pm to 7 pm.

Sunday: Mostly-Nice. That weak upper level "trough" (cold swirl aloft) may increase our cloud cover during the afternoon hours Sunday, but the sun should be out morning and midday hours, highs near 80 (a few degrees cooler up north), with a light west/southwest breeze and only an isolated late PM shower or T-shower over central and southern Minnesota. NAM model map above is valid 1 pm Sunday. Better than average for a weekend.

"It Looked Like King Kong Took A Walk." The U.K.'s Daily Mail has more on Massachusett's killer tornado. The aftermath looks like something out Kansas or Oklahoma, not New England: "Seven tornadoes roared through Massachusetts last night striking its third-largest city, killing at least four and leaving an unknown number injured. As the storms slashed through the city of Springfield, workers ran for cover as debris slammed into buildings during the evening rush hour. Four were killed as a result of the tornadoes, though the governor said the death toll was preliminary."

"10 Minute Warning". A tornado watch was in effect at the time a series of (large/violent) tornadoes swept across central Massachusetts, by some accounts the tornado warning was issued 10 minutes before a 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide tornado swept into Springfield. That's less than the national average (which is roughly 13 minutes), but still enough time for anyone paying attention to seek shelter. More details from Huffington Post and AP: "MONSON, Mass. — The sight of flattened homes, peeled-off roofs and the toppled steeple of a 140-year-old church stunned New Englanders after deadly tornadoes swept through Massachusetts, striking an area of the country that rarely sees such severe twisters. The storms, which came with fair warning but still shocked with their intensity, killed at least three people, injured about 200 and wreaked damage in a string of 18 cities and villages across central and western Massachusetts. If the National Weather Service agrees Wednesday's three deaths are tornado-related, it would bring the year's U.S. toll to 522 and make this year the deadliest for tornadoes since 1950. The highest recorded toll was 519 in 1953; four deaths from Joplin, Mo., that were added Thursday tied the record. There were deadlier years before 1950, but those counts were based on estimates. Tornadoes are not unheard of in New England – the downtown of Connecticut's largest city was devastated by one last June – so many people heeded warnings. That didn't guarantee their survival; among the dead was a mother who shielded her teenage daughter as they huddled in a bathtub."

Trio Of Mass. Tornadoes Wrecked Some 200 Buildings. has more details of the freak tornado that struck Springfield, possible an EF-2 tornado, that appeared to be 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide at times - highly unusual for New England: "At least 200 buildings were destroyed by tornadoes as they carved their deadly paths through Central and Western Massachusetts on Wednesday, hitting particularly hard in a group of eight or nine communities that included the city of Springfield, Governor Deval Patrick said this afternoon. Patrick, who said the National Weather Service had confirmed that at least three tornadoes had touched down, said 35 buildings were destroyed in Springfield, 88 in West Springfield, and "77 and counting" in Monson. The official death toll remains at four and no one is unaccounted-for, he said. He said 290 people were still in shelters, about half the number from Wednesday, and 40,000 to 41,000 homes and businesses were without power. Meanwhile, the grim details -- and a story of a heroic mother saving her child -- began to emerge about the people who were killed in the storms. Officials in West Springfield said Angelica Guerrero, 39, had been killed when she threw her teenage daughter in the bathtub and jumped on top of her, saving her as the house collapsed around them."

Weather Videos:

Missouri: List Of Missing In Tornado Is Down To Zero. An update from the New York Times: "Everyone reported missing since last week's tornado in Joplin has been accounted for, and at least 134 people have been confirmed killed, state officials said Wednesday. The Missouri Department of Public Safety said the confirmed death toll includes 124 people who had been on the unaccounted-for list, 7 people who were taken immediately to funeral homes after the storm, and 3 people who have since died in the hospital from their injuries. Officials said the final 10 people on the list were tracked down by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which has led the effort to find the 268 people listed as unaccounted for after the May 22 tornado."

Time-Lapse Video Tracks Advancing Tornado. Check out this YouTube video, highlights of a PBS special on tornado prediction and tracking: "Dr. Josh Wurman's team from the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colo., deploy a tracking pod in front of an advancing tornado in Wyoming. The devices measure wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity. As can be seen in the clip, that is a hit-or-miss proposition, because tornadoes often change course unexpectedly."

As Hurricane Season Begins, Heavy Storms Are Expected. Not sure what a "heavy storm" is - but I get the gist of this article: La Nina patterns tend to favor more numerous/extreme hurricanes (less wind shear over the tropics creates a more favorable environment for hurricanes to spin up). La Nina is weakening rapidly - expected to morph into a weak El Nino pattern later this year, so the jury is out on the implications for residents of hurricane alley. The New York Times has more: "The year began with birds falling out of the sky in Arkansas, followed by severe drought in some places and record-setting rainfall in others. This spring, a series of exceptionally destructive tornado swarms has wreaked deadly havoc across the South and Midwest, while a historic flood shoved its way down the Mississippi River. That flood is only now making its way into the Gulf of Mexico, and just in time for hurricane season. The season, which started on Wednesday and reaches its height in late summer, is forecast to be a busy one, with as many as 18 named tropical storms and three to six major hurricanes. This flurry of hurricane activity comes as part of an observable spike that started in 1995. The spike is attributable to warmer than usual ocean temperatures, though scientists are not in complete agreement on what those warmer temperatures mean, said Jeff Masters, the director of meteorology for Weather Underground, whose analyses are followed along the Gulf Coast like the sports pages. While many scientists describe this as one of the multidecade hurricane cycles that can be observed back to the 19th century, others say that the warming ocean temperatures are in fact a result of noncyclical climate change. “Is this really a cycle or not, or are we fooling ourselves?” Dr. Masters asked."

Meteorologist On Severe Weather: "We Have Never Seen A Year Like This Before". PBS's Judy Woodruff interviews Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground about this year's unprecedented severe weather season. The full interview is here:

"JEFFREY BROWN: The storm in Joplin was preceded by a series of tornadoes this spring that has brought devastation to the South and Midwest. All together, it's been the deadliest season since 1950, with more than 520 people killed so far. All of this has led to many questions about what's behind this - what is happening this year. Judy Woodruff explores the science. Jeff Masters, let me begin with you. You have been studying meteorology for over 30 years. Just how much more severe are the storms, the tornadoes, we have been seeing this year than in the past?

In The Wake Of Natural Disasters, Insurers Brace For Big Losses. An update from the New York Times: "Based on nearly two dozen interviews with farmers, business owners, analysts and government officials, private insurance companies are likely to experience at least $10 billion in insured losses this year, mostly associated with the tornadoes and the flooding along the Mississippi, based on property damage, lost inventory, business interruption and disrupted crop plantings. Insurance industry and risk analysis experts arrived at their projections by adding median damage estimates for the worst of the tornadoes so far. The tally will rise when private-sector insurance flood and crop claims associated with the Mississippi River flooding are tacked on and hundreds of other tornadoes and severe winter weather events are factored in. “Natural catastrophe losses in the United States are likely to be well over $10 billion by the end of 2011,” said David Smith, the senior vice president of Eqecat Inc., a catastrophe risk modeling firm. And Robert P. Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, said that just one “relatively minor” hurricane this year could push the total private insurance catastrophe losses in 2011 above the $13.6 billion paid out in 2010. Whatever the numbers prove to be, analysts acknowledge that the geographic and economic range of damage is vast. Farmland is still submerged, meaning farmers must wait until the water fully recedes to determine whether the soil is fit to replant. Damage assessment teams are still fanning out in tornado zones, surveying the destruction."

Is New York City Way Overdue For A Hurricane? The answer is yes. The Gothamist has the story: "The devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, which were responsible for killing at least 142 people, were yet another reminder of the cruel indifference of the weather. And though it may seem like a midwest/southern problem, it really isn't: don't start panicking yet, but MSNBC finds that NYC is the 3rd most vulnerable and overdue city for a hurricane. And we don't think they're talking about appearances from Rubin Carter. Despite it being a rare occurrence in these parts, this is the second year in a row meteorologists have warned that NYC will likely face a hurricane in the near future—and will be incredibly hard to evacuate, if it came to that. According to the United States Landfalling Hurricane Probability Project, there is a greater than 90 percent probability that NYC/Long Island will be hit with a major hurricane (category 3 or more) in the next 50 years. There have only been a very few number of direct hits in the past 200 years: the 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane killed 17 people, and a category one hurricane came onshore between Coney Island and JFK in 1893, causing structural damage all over (it even passed through Brooklyn). Worst of all was the New England Hurricane of 1938, a category 3 hurricane which made landfall in Suffolk County and was responsible for killing over 60 people in NY. Since then, there have been virtually no direct hits in the city by hurricanes. (Here's a look back at Hurricane Donna's effects on the city in the 1960s.)"

Lightning Strikes Near Space Shuttle Atlantis. has the story: "KENNEDY SPACE CENTER. At NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, teams closed the rotating service structure (RSS) Thursday morning and will evaluate data from a storm that passed over Kennedy Wednesday. A lightning strike was detected about half a mile from the pad. Teams will perform walkdowns and evaluate the data. Meanwhile, technicians completed a hotfire of space shuttle Atlantis' auxiliary power unit and connected the ground umbilical carrier plate Wednesday. At Kennedy's Orbiter Processing Facility-1, technicians will begin draining the residual cryogenic fuel from shuttle Endeavour's power reaction control distribution system today."

Eclipse Of The Midnight Sun. has the spectacular details: "A solar eclipse at midnight? It's not only possible, it actually happened last night. On June 1st, the new Moon passed in front of the midnight sun above the Arctic circle, producing a partial eclipse of exquisite beauty. Bernt Olsen photographed the event from Sommarøy, Tromsø, Norway."

In Unusual Move, Apple Previews New Software Plans. Getting a jump on Google's cloud ambitions? Whatever the reason Apple is lifting the veil on an upcoming service, called iCloud. The New York Times takes a look: "Apple said on Tuesday that it would announce new versions of the software that powers its computers and cellphones, as well as a new Internet service that could connect these devices. The company gave few details about the service, which it calls iCloud, but analysts think it would allow people to gain access to music, photos and videos over the Internet on multiple Apple devices, without needing to sync those devices. An Internet-based version of iTunes with those features has long been expected, and iCloud comes on the heels of deals between Apple and major recording labels that would allow such a service to go forward. The announcement is to be made next week by Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive, at Apple’s annual developers conference in San Francisco. Mr. Jobs has been on medical leave since January, though he made a surprise appearance in March to introduce a new iPad. Apple’s preview, posted on a company Web site, was unusual because it generally takes pains to keep any announcements or details about new products secret until they are formally unveiled. Some commentators on technology blogs were surprised that Apple was apparently not planning to announce a new version of the iPhone. Traditionally, Apple announces new products on a yearly cycle; the iPhone 4 was introduced in June of last year."

A Camera, A Card, A Connection. David Pogue at the New York Times takes a close look at "Eye-Fi", a new generation of (SD) cards that allow you to transmit your photos directly to your PC or Mac, without a physical cable or connection. A new generation not only taps the power of your home or office WIFI network but can create it's own mobile hot-spot. Very cool, a 10 on the geek-o-meter:
"You can take photos with your favorite camera, but transmit or upload them to the world from your cellphone, on the spot. It’s a memory card, of all things: The Eye-Fi Mobile X2 card ($80). Eye-Fi cards have been around for a while. The first ones did one thing very well: they transferred photos from your camera to your computer — and online sites like Flickr or Picasa — when you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot. (Yes, that’s right: the Eye-Fi folks have squeezed Wi-Fi circuitry onto a memory card the size of your thumbnail. Think about that too hard, and you’ll give yourself a headache.) Eventually, the company took this feature to its logical conclusion: the bottomless memory card. If you’re in Wi-Fi, you can keep snapping photos. The card steadily backs them up to your computer or a Web site, and then deletes the backed-up photos from the card to make room for new ones. You never run out of card space. Recent models have added geotagging (your geographical coordinates get invisibly stamped onto each photo, so you can view them later on a map online) and the ability to transfer photos in RAW format. All the cards are physically identical, though; you can buy a card intended for one purpose (like the Mobile X2), and then pay $30 each to add features from other cards. (If this all seems confusing, you’re right.) But the Mobile X2 is the first Eye-Fi card that can perform its magic even when you’re not in a Wi-Fi hot spot."
A "Roll-Top Laptop?" Now I've seen everything. If you're looking for a new laptop that's easy to carry and can literally unroll, check this out, courtesy of

Thursday Numbers. With sunshine much of the day temperatures soared into the 80s south of the Minnesota River, a balmy 86 at Redwood Falls, 80 in the Twin Cities, 77 at St. Cloud and a brisk 62 at Duluth.

Paul's SC Times Outlook for St. Cloud and all of central Minnesota:

TODAY: Intervals of warm sun, windy, few strong/severe storms? Winds: SW 10-20. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: A few T-storms, some heavy, turning cooler late. Low: 60

SATURDAY: Lot's of sunshine, very pleasant (slight chance of a PM shower up north). Winds: W 10-15. High:79

SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and pleasant. Low: 58

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, slight chance of a late-day shower or thundershower. Winds: W/SW 5-10. High: near 80

MONDAY: Plenty of warm sunshine. Low: 61. High: 83

TUESDAY: Sticky sun, PM T-storms. Low: 66. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, lingering T-shower or two. Low: 68. High: 85

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, still warm. Low: 65. High: 80

"Pleasant Weekend"

I know: 2 words you haven't seen next to each other for a long, long time. "Pleasant weekend." The planets have aligned; we're all winners of the Weather Lotto this weekend. Blue sky, a drop in humidity, lake-worthy temperatures near 80 both days. Yes, I'll believe it when I see it too, but right now we're moderately optimistic.

Recently a friend asked, "Paul, we're having late springs and long, milder autumns in Minnesota. Is this a trend?" Maybe. "Both seasons (spring and fall) show warming trends in the broadest context (50-100 years)", said Professor Mark Seeley. He says the data shows a nearly equal distribution of very warm (early) springs and very late, cold springs. "Fall seasons (Sept-Nov) show a more one-sided distribution, with far more long, warm ones, than short and cool ones." Interesting.

A hot front boosts the mercury into the mid 80s later today, a few strong/severe storms may flare up later, especially north/east of the Twin Cities. Stay alert for watches & a few warnings.

The sun stays out most of the weekend with a slight dip in temperature and humidity, a few late-day instability T-showers possible Sunday, but MOST of the weekend should be sun-splattered and pretty nice. 80s linger next week. Summer's here - finally!

Record CO2 Levels A Bad Sign For Global Climate Goals. After a slight dip in 2008 and 2009, tied to the global recession, emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases reached a new record in 2010, as reported by "Record levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year threaten our chances of keeping the Earth's temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius, considered by scientists to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change. CO2 emissions from energy production in 2010 were the highest in history following a recessionary dip the year before, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a stark announcement Monday. Existing and planned power plants mean the bulk of energy-related CO2 emissions projected for 2020 are already "locked in." "This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2ºC," Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said in a statement. World leaders have agreed to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less above pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophic climate change, which could include heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather and droughts, among other impacts."

"Very Worried" About Escalating Emissions? You Should Be. Australia's "The Conversation" has the story: "The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released unpublished estimates of 2010 global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, and the news is not good. Between 2003 and 2008, emissions had been rising at a rate faster than the IPCC worst case scenario. However, the global recession slowed the emissions growth considerably. In fact, they actually declined slightly from 29.4 billion tons (gigatons, or Gt) CO₂ in 2008, to 29 Gt in 2009. However, despite the slow global economic recovery, 2010 saw the largest single year increase in global human CO₂ emissions from energy (fossil fuels). They grew a whopping 1.6 Gt from 2009, to 30.6 Gt. The previous record annual increase was 1.2 Gt from 2003 to 2004. As illustrated in Figure 1, in 2009 we had dropped into the middle of the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) scenarios, but the 2010 increase has pushed us back up toward the worst case scenarios once again."

Forum: Is Extreme Weather Linked To Climate Change? Yale's Environment 360 has a timely post: "In the past year, the world has seen a large number of extreme weather events, from the Russian heat wave last summer, to the severe flooding in Pakistan, to the recent tornadoes in the U.S. In a Yale Environment 360 forum, a panel of experts weighs in on whether the wild weather may be tied to increasing global temperatures. That global air and ocean temperatures are rising, and that human activity is largely to blame, is no longer a subject of debate among the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists. But there is no such consensus when talk turns to another important question: Is climate change already causing more extreme weather events, including worsening downpours and flooding, intensifying heat waves, and more powerful hurricanes? Yale Environment 360 asked eight leading climate experts whether they think there is growing evidence that human-caused global warming is contributing to an increased incidence of extreme weather — and to cite specific recent examples in their answers. Their responses varied, with some contending that rising temperatures already are creating more tempestuous weather and others saying that more extreme weather may be likely but that not enough data yet exists to discern a trend in that direction. Scientists in both camps said two physical phenomena — warmer air holds more moisture, and higher temperatures exacerbate naturally occurring heat waves — would almost by definition mean more extremes. But some argued that the growing human toll from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and heat waves is primarily related to burgeoning human population and the related degradation of the environment."

More Weather Deaths? Wanna Bet? A professor of economics at George Mason University placed a bet in Thursday's Wall Street Journal (a subscription to the WSJ may be required to read the full text of this article): "Writing recently in the Washington Post, environmental guru Bill McKibben asserted that the number and severity of recent weather events, such as the tornado in Joplin, Mo., are too great not to be the result of fossil-fuel induced climate change. He suggested that government's failure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases will result in more violent weather and weather-related deaths in the future. And pointing to the tragedy in Joplin, Mr. McKibben summarily dismissed the idea that, if climate change really is occurring, human beings can successfully adapt to it. There's one problem with this global-warming chicken little-ism. It has little to do with reality. National Weather Service data on weather-related fatalities since 1940 show that the risks of Americans being killed by violent weather have fallen significantly over the past 70 years. The annual number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, of course, varies. For example, the number of persons killed by these weather events in 1972 was 703 while the number killed in 1988 was 72. But amid this variance is a clear trend: The number of weather-related fatalities, especially since 1980, has dropped dramatically. For the 30-year span of 1980-2009, the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes was 194—fully one-third fewer deaths each year than during the 1940-1979 period. The average annual number of deaths for the years 1980-2009 falls even further, to 160 from 194, if we exclude the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, most of which were caused by a levee that breached on the day after the storm struck land......But if no one accepts my bet, what would that fact say about how seriously Americans should treat climate-change doomsaying?
Do I have any takers?"

David Boudreaux: I'll Take That Bet. Professor Roger Pielke Jr, a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder is prepared to take that bet. Here is Pielke's response: " Writing in the WSJ last week economist Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University offers to make a bet in order to make a point about human-caused climate change in response to Bill McKibben's silly essay from earlier in the week in the Washington Post: "I'll bet $10,000 that the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes will fall over the next 20 years. Specifically, I'll bet that the average annual number of Americans killed by these violent weather events from 2011 through 2030 will be lower than it was from 1991 through 2010. I am willing to take this bet in order to raise awareness of the fact that both sides of the debate over climate change debate can't see the forest for the trees.  The factors that will drive loss of human life due to weather extremes in coming decades will be increasing vulnerability and exposure. As a condition of the bet, when I win (which unfortunately will occur long before 2030) I ask that the proceeds go directly to the American Red Cross. (Should I lose the bet come 2030, I'll make out a check to the charity of Prof. Boudreaux's choice.)  A second condition is that Prof. Boudreaux agrees to write an op-ed for the WSJ (or some other venue) explaining the bet and why he lost (of course, I am willing to do the same)."

Climate Change And Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution. Here's a post from the Union of Concerned Scientists: "Millions of Americans suffer from the harmful effects of ground-level ozone pollution—be they children too sick to go to school, high school football players not allowed to practice outdoors in the summer, 65-year-olds with lung disease unable to take a walk in the park, or farmers at risk when they harvest their fields. Ground-level ozone pollution exacerbates lung diseases such as asthma and can cause breathing difficulties even in healthy individuals.

Ozone pollution is expensive.

Not only does ozone pollution cause a number of serious breathing problems, and therefore a great deal of suffering, it also is damaging in monetary terms. Whether tallying up the dollars lost to sick days or the high costs of emergency-room visits, ozone pollution is expensive.

Climate change could worsen ozone pollution.

And now health professionals have an additional ozone pollution concern—climate changeTemperatures in the United States have already risen more than two degrees Fahrenheit (2°F) over the past century, largely because of climate change, and are expected to keep rising throughout the next few decades and likely much longer."

Religious Leaders Say Climate Change Is A "Moral Challenge". A story from Australia's Herald Sun: "Representatives from all major religions met politicians in Canberra yesterday to discuss climate change action - and they were not praising Catholic Tony Abbott's plan. The group, known as the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, wants a price on carbon. A member of Tony Abbott's front bench said religious representatives were entitled to their views, but they weren't shared by most Australians. Quoting a phrase used by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, the religious leaders said climate change was a "moral challenge". Last night Anglican Bishop George Browning said tree planting and recycling could help reduce global warming, but direct action couldn't do the full job. "We recognise that one policy above all others is required from the political community, namely the pricing of carbon," Bishop Browning said. "We are aware of the cost this imposes to large sections of Australian society; however, not to act makes no more sense than the protection in the past of outdated technologies, or tariffs to protect industry. "The naysayers are holding Australia back from taking responsible action with their fear-mongering and misinformation. "Not only can we act, we must act."

Bjorn Lomborg: Debunked By Climate Science Rapid Response Team. Full disclosure: I'm a member of the CSRRT. Mr. Lomborg has a tendency to put a positive spin on climate change, emphasizing "market solutions" and minimizing the need to worry about worst-case scenarios. The publication "Take Parthas a fascinating interview with Bjorn, where they categorically debunk most of his claims: "On June 2, 2011, TakePart published an exclusive interview with Bjørn Lomborg, the Danish statistician and former climate change skeptic. Because we questioned two of Lomborg's answers, we submitted them to the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (CSRRT) for analysis. Founded in late 2010, the first of its kind organization is a match-making service that links members of the media with top scientists. The end goal is to improve communication about climate change. What follows are the two TakePart questions, Lomborg’s answers that we believed to be questionable, and the truth according to CSRRT.

TakePart: You’ve argued that climate change isn’t the end of the world. Why not?

Bjørn Lomborg: Listen, if you look at the best models out there that indicate what’s going to happen, we’re looking at a sea level rise of somewhere between half and two feet. This will constitute a problem. We know that sea levels rose about a foot over the last 150 years. But it has a very small consequence. And if you look at all of the impacts that are likely to come from global warming, most of them are negative, the economists argue that the total impact by the end of the century will be on the order of 2 to 5 percent of global GDP. That means we will be less rich. That means we will have to spend more money on dealing with the problems that global warming will incur on us. That’s the bad. But remember, 2 to 5 percent is not 100 percent. It is a problem, but it is not the end of the world. 
The Truth
Turns out, TakePart was not the first media outlet to question Lomborg's sea level assertion. When we contacted CSRRT for their review of his answer, we were directed to their debunking of a similar claim Lomborg made in a November 22, 2010 Washington Post op-ed: "the fact that the best research we have—from the United Nations climate panel—says that global sea levels are not likely to rise more than about 20 inches by 2100." Back then, Think Progress asked CSRRT to assess his statement. Three scientists—the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology's Ken Caldiera, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Josh Willish, and Rutgers University's Alan Robockindependently confirmed that Lomborg had misrepresented the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report.
Read their full debunking here."

James Mashey On Strange Scholarship In The Wegman Report. Plagiarism and bias plagued the recent "Wegman Report", a critique of Michael Mann's "hockey stick", and an indictment of climate science in general. Deep Climate has the details: "This report offers a detailed study of the “Wegman Report”: Edward J. Wegman, David W. Scott, Yasmin H. Said, “AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ GLOBAL CLIMATE RECONSTRUCTION”(2006). It has been key prop of climate anti-science ever since. It was promoted to Congress by Representatives Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield as “independent, impartial, expert” work by a team of “eminent statisticians.” It was none of those. A Barton staffer provided much of the source material to the Wegman team. The report itself contains numerous cases of obvious bias, as do process, testimony and follow-on actions. Of 91 pages, 35 are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning. Its Bibliography is mostly padding, 50% of the references uncited in the text.  Many references are irrelevant or dubious.  The team relied heavily on a long-obsolete sketch and very likely on various uncredited sources. Much of the work was done by Said (then less than 1 year post-PhD) and by students several years pre-PhD. The (distinguished) 2nd author Scott wrote only a 3-page standard mathematical Appendix.  Some commenters were surprised to be later named as serious “reviewers.”  Comments were often ignored anyway.  People were misused. The Wegman Report claimed two missions: #1 evaluate statistical issues of the “hockey stick” temperature graph,  and #2 assess potential peer review issues in climate science.  For #1, the team might have been able to do a peer-review-grade statistical analysis, but in 91 pages managed not to do so.  For  #2, a credible assessment needed a senior, multidisciplinary panel, not a statistics professor and his students, demonstrably unfamiliar with the science and as a team, unqualified for that task.   Instead, they made an odd excursion into “social network analysis,” a discipline  in which they lacked experience, but used poorly to make baseless claims of potential wrongdoing."

Radical Confidence: When's The Right Time To Act On Climate Change? poses the question: "We had dinner plans with friends last night here in New York and I went online to check the weather and saw that there was a tornado watch for the area -- the one that hit Springfield, Mass., yesterday was in the same cluster of storm cells that ultimately missed New York–- so the timing of activities is on my mind. In the environment, as in business, timing is critical. This is perhaps no more true than in the issue of anthropogenic climate change. A pair of articles this week on the sister site, discuss the alarming news on carbon emissions and their impacts on cities. Tilde Herrera covers the International Energy Agency's recent report that 2010 had the highest CO2 emissions in history. The IEA warns that, at current rates, the 2°C temperature increase that most experts consider the threshold of unmanageable climate change, will be considered a floor for potential future temperatures, rather than the ceiling. Cities represent approximately 70 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide and buildings represent between 65 percent and 70 percent of their CO2 emissions, and in some cases -- such as New York-- this figure can reach 80 percent. The other particularly alarming piece of the IEA report was the fact that given the planned and current infrastructure development trends, the emissions in 2020 are almost locked in. Not surprisingly, the majority of growth in emissions is in developing countries. However, per capita emissions in these nations remain far below those of the Western world. Compounding this challenge with the declared intention of Germany and Japan to gradually eliminate their use of nuclear power, the magnitude of the job ahead of us can only be considered daunting."

Bank Of America Targets 15% Drop In Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Funds $55 Million Fund For Retrofits. A tip of the hat to Bank of America for recognizing a problem, trying to reduce their carbon footprint (and simultaneously, their energy costs). has more: "Bank of America has raised the bar for its environmental performance with new goals to achieve a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from worldwide operations and attain LEED green building certification for 20 percent of its corporate real estate. The goals were among the expanded environmental commitments announced by the firm in the past two weeks. On Wednesday, Bank of America said it will provide $55 million in low-cost loans and grants to community lenders in a competitive program that's designed to encourage energy efficiency retrofits in older buildings. The new GHG target follows one that BofA set and exceeded for reducing its carbon footprint. The firm was aiming for a 9 percent absolute reduction in GHG emissions from legacy BofA operations in the U.S. by 2009, compared to a 2004 baseline. BofA slashed emissions by 18 percent, as the company noted in its most recent report to the Carbon Disclosure Project. The goal for a 15 percent cut in GHG emissions by 2015 also calls for an absolute reduction, but uses a 2010 baseline and factors in international properties as well as legacy operations for Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, which the company acquired in 2008 and 2009, respectively."

Group: Iowa Could Triple Wind Production. A story from AP and KCCI-TV with implications for Minnesota:A wind energy group said Iowa could triple its production of wind energy by 2020.The Iowa Wind Energy Association says it supports of goal of expanding the wind energy capacity in Iowa from its current 3,670 megawatts to 10 gigawatts by 2020 and to 20 gigawatts by 2030.The association's executive director, Harold Prior, said the expansion would increase jobs, salaries, farm income and property taxes.The Gazette newspaper is reporting that meeting the 20 gigawatt goal would mean more than 9,500 new jobs, nearly $24 million in new land lease payments and more than $6 billion in property tax valuation.Democratic State Sen. Rob Hobb of Cedar Rapids said he is confident the state can reach that goal."

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