Endangered western forests: The Yellowstone

October 10, 2012

Additional CO2 and warmer weather will help plants, the climate change denialists say.  That’s not what we see, however.  Turns out CO2 helps weeds, and warmer weather helps destructive species, more than it helps the stuff we need and want in the wild.

For example, the white-bark pine, Pinus albicaulis:


From American Forests:

With increasingly warm winters at high elevations in the West, a predator that has stalked forests for decades has gained the upper hand. It is mountain pine blister rust, an invasive fungus. Combined with mountain pine beetles, which kill hundreds of thousands of trees per year in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), the environmental health of the Rocky Mountains and neighboring regions is in danger. To make matters worse, the species most susceptible to these two threats, the whitebark pine, is also the most vital to ecosystem stability, essential to the survival of more than 190 plant and animal species in Yellowstone alone.

First debuted at SXSW Eco, this video tells the story of our endangered western forests and how American Forests and the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee are working toward their restoration and protection for future generations.

Learn more: http://www.americanforests.org/what-we-do/endangered-western-forests/


Whitebark Pine

Whitebark Pine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine. Français : Tige et cônes de Pi...

Whitebark Pine, cones and needle cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine Français : Un cône de Pin à éco...

Whitebark pine’s distinctive, almost-black cone. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Annals of global warming: Insurance companies note increasing costs of floods, due to climate change

October 1, 2012

Note today in Al Gore’s Journal:

Flooding Costs October 1, 2012 : 10:32 AM

Time cover from April 28, 2008 - how to win war on global warming

Time Magazine cover for April 28, 2008 – How to Win the War On Global Warming

A new report from Swiss Re finds that the financial impact of flooding has doubled in the past decade – climate is a major driver:

“Flood losses are increasing at an alarming rate while the insurability of floods provides unique challenges for the industry, according Swiss Re’s latest report, “Flood – an underestimated risk: Inspect, inform, insure”.” …

“No other natural catastrophe impacts as many people as flooding with an estimated 500 million people affected every year. Insured flood losses are also increasing significantly; 1970’s annual claims were between USD 1–2 billion, whereas insured flood losses amounted to USD 15 billion in 2011. Recent flood events in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines have shown that floods are now rivalling earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of economic losses.” …

“Population growth, demographic change, a higher concentration of assets in exposed areas, greater vulnerability of insured objects and climate change are all contributing to the increasing costs of flood damage. The rising costs of floods are creating challenges for the insurance industry and the economic viability of flood insurance is currently an issue under scrutiny.”


Annals of global warming: Understanding climate change, modeling, glaciers and water supply

September 13, 2012

Even during the sturm und drang and donner und blitzen of a presidential election year, scientists carry on their work to understand our planet, its weather and climate, and help others understand it, too.

Good on them.

Comes this morning an e-update newsletter from the National Academy of Sciences, with news on the study of climate change.


A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling

A new report from the National Research Council concludes that climate models will need to evolve substantially to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers. As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning.

Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise–in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers, and holding an annual climate modeling forum–could help speed progress.

Learn more about the report at a free webinar on September 28 at 1:30 pm EST, where you’ll be able to watch live presentations by the report’s authoring committee and ask questions about the report’s findings.


New Website Provides “101” on Climate Modeling

Earth’s climate system is, in a word, complicated. It incorporates thousands of factors that interact in space and time around the globe and over many generations. For several decades, scientists have used the world’s most advanced computers to both simulate climate and predict future climate. Industries such as those mentioned above increasingly rely on information from these models to guide decision making–and with a changing climate, the information is more important than ever. Along with its new report about advancing climate modeling, the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate has released Climate Modeling 101, a website designed to help the public learn more about the basics of climate modeling–how they work and why they are important. The site features short videos and animations that explain everything from the difference between climate and weather to how climate models are built and verified.


Impact of Himalayan Glaciers on Water Supply Unclear

Another report from National Research Council, released on September 12, 2012, concludes that, although scientific evidence shows that most glaciers in South Asia’s Hindu Kush Himalayan region are retreating, the consequences for the region’s water supply are unclear. The study looks at the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, where several of Asia’s great river systems meet, providing water for drinking, irrigation, and other uses for about 1.5 billion people.

Recent studies show that at lower elevations, glacial retreat is unlikely to cause significant changes in water availability over the next several decades, but other factors, including groundwater depletion and increasing human water use, could have a greater impact. Higher elevation areas could experience altered water flow in some river basins if current rates of glacial retreat continue, but shifts in the location, intensity, and variability of rain and snow due to climate change will likely have a greater impact on regional water supplies.

Along with the report, the NRC has released a slideshow of stunning images and data-rich maps that explain what was learned in the report.


The melting away of climate denialism?

August 2, 2012

Ben Sargent, on 2012 heat wave and views of global warming, Austin American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

Ben Sargent, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

If only it were true that heat, weather, or any other data or information, could cause global warming denialism to melt away . . .

Shorter Anthony Watts: Ignore cities, discount all NOAA sites that show warming, and global warming doesn’t look so bad

July 30, 2012

Since he prefers a Kim Jong Il-style commenter policy –“only those who flatter the Premier need comment” — Anthony Watts‘s site doesn’t get the pleasure of my visits much, anymore.  Consequently I missed the announcement he made last week that he was “suspending” his blog, at least temporarily, until some great news came out.

English: Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking i...

Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking in Gold Coast, Australia, on a tour searching to find some place on Earth not affected by global warming. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Now the great news is out.  I think.  Watts may have been right to suspend blogging.  He should have kept the suspension longer.

Watts says NOAA‘s temperature measurement in the U.S. is way off, and that if we ignore all the cities, and if we ignore sites that show the greatest increases in temperature over the past century or so, global warming doesn’t look so bad.

Watts said he is the lead author on a new paper questioning all warming calculations:

This pre-publication draft paper, titled An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends, is co-authored by Anthony Watts of California, Evan Jones of New York, Stephen McIntyre of Toronto, Canada, and Dr. John R. Christy from the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, Huntsville, is to be submitted for publication.

Wait a minute.  “Prepublication draft paper?”  ” . . . to be submitted for publication?”

Yes, Dear Reader, that claxon you hear is your and my Hemingway III Solid Gold [Excrement] Detectors™ going off.  It may be a false alarm, but still — isn’t this how bogus science is done, isn’t this what Robert Park warns us about?  Indeed, in the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, Park says to pay attention to key indicators:  “1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.”  It is, indeed, a press release from Watts, about a paper he hopes to get through the peer review process at some point in the future — but it has not yet been pitched to the science journals.  (Yes, that’s also one of the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus History . . . one discipline at a time, please.)

What’s the rush?  Oh:  Tuesday, July 31, is the deadline for peer reviewed papers to be submitted to the international agency studying climate change, the Internatioinal  (IPCC), for consideration and inclusion in the next report.

Same old stuff, new day.  Watts has been arguing for years that NOAA’s temperature measurements err, but after the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) Project determined that warming exists, even using Watts’s modified measurements and accounting for his claimed errors, some of us hoped Watts might turn to blogging about science, instead.

No, Watts turned to finding a hint of a methodology that might support his preconceived notions.  He found one.

So, Watts’s big announcement is that he’s found a methdology which favors his criticisms of NOAA; so we should ignore temperature readings from cities, because cities are hot, and we should ignore temperature readings from suburbs of cities, because suburbs are warm; and if we do that, then warming in the U.S. doesn’t look so bad.

Were I allowed to ask questions at Watts’s blog, I’d ask why we should ignore warming in cities, because are they not part of the planet?  Oh, well.

The Twitter version:

Watts: Ignore city temps (hot!) and ‘burbs (warm!), temps on farms don’t show so much global warming!  Oops – did we say that before?

Anthony, how about you suspend your blog until you get the paper accepted at a good journal?  Make sure you got the numbers right . . .


LCV’s “Flat Earth Five,” targets for election defeat – two named, who are the last three?

July 26, 2012


Naming one of their top five targets per week, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) will name three more Members of Congress to their “Flat Earth Five,” members who not only vote against LCV positions, but also seem to dwell among flat-Earth believers on science, generally.

First two of the Flat Earth Five:

  1. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.)
  2. Rep. Dan Benishek (Mich.)

Who will fill the three remaining slots — and will they survive election?


EU climate authority approved Britain’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

July 11, 2012

It’s stunning to listen to radio, or read newspaper letters-to-the-editor sections in the U.S., and see people who argue we have no need to control carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the European Commission (EC) Climate Change Committee (CCC) approved Britain’s plan to auction pollution rights, part of the UK plan to control and limit carbon emissions.

You’d think we don’t share the same planet.

Here’s the news, from Britain’s Department of Environment and Climate Change:

EU Emissions Trading System: European Commission approves the UK’s national auction platform

Press Notice 2012/081

11 July 2012

Today the European Commission (EC) Climate Change Committee (CCC) voted to approve the UK’s national auction platform for phase III and aviation auctions under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Welcoming this important vote, Greg Barker said:

“This announcement is a further step towards ensuring that we can start auctioning phase III and aviation allowances as planned. The endorsement by the EU Climate Change Committee reflects the strength of the UK’s proposal and continued leading role in carbon auctioning.”

The CCC endorsement is the latest step in the UK’s preparations for auctioning phase III and aviation allowances. Under EU rules, the Commission and Member States in the form of the CCC must first approve the platform. This will be followed by a three month scrutiny period by the European Council and Parliament. The UK expects auctioning to start in November 2012, subject to successful completion of this scrutiny process.

Following a decision by the CCC last year, Member States are due to start auctioning some 120m phase III emissions allowances early before the end of this year. The UK’s share of these allowances is 12m. Subject to EU approval, it is expected that these allowances will be auctioned in November and December this year. In addition, the UK is expected to auction approximately 7m aviation allowances by the end of 2012.

Auctions of these allowances will be held separately during the same period.

Further detailed information on the UK’s phase III and aviation auctions, including the proposed auction calendar and how to access the auctions, will follow in due course.

Notes to editors

  • The European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS) is at the heart of UK Government policy to tackle climate change
  • The rules governing the system are set out in the EU ETS Directive; it covers sectors responsible for around half of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions
  • In 2008, the EU ETS Directive was revised to make auctioning the main method for allocating emissions allowances in Phase III of the EU ETS (2013-2020). In Phase III, at least 50% of general emissions allowances will be auctioned across the EU. In addition, EU member states will auction 15% of aviation allowances
  • Under the rules set out in the EU Auctioning Regulation, Member States have the option to either auction via a common EU platform, or set up their own, national platform. The UK, Germany and Poland have opted to set up national auction platforms.
  • In April DECC announced that ICE Futures Europe was its preferred supplier for the contract to conduct auctions of phase III and aviation EU ETS. This followed an EU-wide competitive tender process that launched in December 2011.
  • Before auctions can begin on the UK platform, the platform must first be approved by the Climate Change Committee and then be subject to a 3 month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and Council. These requirements are set out in the EU Auctioning Regulation.
  • Both Germany and the European Commission (auctioning on behalf of 24 Member States) have announced their intention to start auctioning after the summer.

Further information can be found on:


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