Friday, May 29, 2015

...into the bucket of jellied eels, spread across the Toast Of The Not Knowing

Not Toast Of The Not Knowing

A little more on the lawsuit flop against John Mashey - Stoat has posts (one of them with a brilliant headline), and John M links to his lawyers' brief arguing for dismissal. If you thought the summary of the flaws in the case looked bad, read the full brief. The jaw drops.

Per Stoat, it made Retraction Watch, but just a tiny mention and not a full article that it deserves. I poked around George Mason websites for a combative student newspaper to cover this, but wasn't sure I found much.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weird paper claims climate change helps biodiversity

ScienceDaily says a paper found that climate change has less impacts on biodiversity than land use has. My first thoughts were that it's plausible, that the negative effects are combined, and that the priority might depend on the assumptions. I tried to RTFA, but it was paywalled other than a long abstract. The long abstract, however, nearly contradicts ScienceDaily, saying climate change has a mostly positive effect on biodiversity. Weirdly, it said that the climate change effect on biodiversity distribution by altitude was a positive effect in its study area, when I'd think that all other things being equal, a species will find less land available to it as its habitat range moves from lower to upper areas.

So, after some waffling I forked out the six bucks for temporary access, and I now have thoughts. I should be hesitant to pass judgment as a total amateur, so qualify this accordingly, but the main issue I'm fixating on is that they examined a single watershed catchment of a small, steeply-sloped river (1700 square km, elev. 45m to 1700m) in rural China. Your classic watershed is pie-shaped, with more land as you move uphill, even though our planet's land surface isn't similarly shaped. I think their finding, that in their case climate change benefits biodiversity when it moves habitat ranges uphill, is an artifact of their study area's topography. I looked for any discussion of this disparity between their study area and the terrestrial world in general, and didn't see it.

Other thoughts:

  • It studies stream macroinvertebrates, just one specialized aspect of biodiversity, and is very dependent on projected changes in hydrology. I'm surprised to read the claim that one could do meaningful, quantitative predictions for future hydrology at a small scale. Maybe I shouldn't be.
  • Speaking of predictions, the paper ends its predictions in 2050. I'd guess wildly that 2050 is about when land use impacts would've hit their maximum for a rural part of China, but climate change impacts are just beginning. Extending the analysis to a full century might give a different sense about the negative aspects of climate change.
  • The paper discusses the issue of a "summit trap" where the species habitat hits the maximum altitude and then disappears, but apparently it just wasn't an issue in this study.

In summary, I have no sense that paper is denialist or the authors were skewing it in that direction, but the catchment area and 2050 timeline IMHO exclude applying this analysis to saying climate change is secondary to land use in impact, let alone that climate change has a positive impact on biodiversity.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Plain Speaking

Jeff Nesbit on Twitter points to a bit of plain speaking.

Maurice Strong Newman, is the usual "business" advisor to the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.  Strong Newman has the expected attitude about the science of climate, and has expressed on occasion the beleif, well  you can go read his oped in the Australian.  If anything could bring Tim Lambert out of retirement for another go at The Australian's War on Science, this is it folks.  Perhaps some of the refugees from Deltoid might have a crack, which Eli would be proud to publish,

Anyhow, in a meeting of the Australian Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Senator Larissa Walters asked Rob Vertessy, the Director of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology about some of Mr. Strong Newman's beliefs.  Lisa Cox in the Sydney Morning Herald has a report on the hearing.  Strong Newman's beliefs had already been called out as a joke by Christine Figueras, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

There were some lovely deadpan answers, but also a classic example of how to handle mansplaining by Senator Walters after the chair of the committee (a woman) tries to close off her line of inquiry at the start.

Among the highlights was Vertessy's answer to the old red herring of how can there be global warming if people in New Hampshire (people in New Hampshire always freeze their butts off)  the south of England are freezing their butts off.
I think it is referring to a bit of an old red herring that suggests that just because you are getting cold weather in the northern hemisphere it somehow discredits the fact that there is global warming occurring. There is a perfectly good explanation for that.  The theory of global warming does not hold that there will be no any cold weather anywhere.  In fact there is evidence to suggest that global warming will actually intensify the onset of some cold weather due to the effect of the changing behavior of the jet stream  which wanders around a hell of a lot more latitudinally than it used to as a result to the changes to the global climate system and that has the effect of  actually  bringing more polar air into some populated areas of the northern hemisphere as well as bringing up some hot weather as well. So it is by no means any kind of proof that global warming is occuring 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

California Democratic Party convention becomes first to call for climate divestment

I was at the party convention when it happened last weekend, but worked on campaign finance disclosure rather than divestment (disclosure got supported too). It's good news:

The California Democratic Party approved a sweeping resolution on Sunday to drop fossil fuel stocks from the state's two major public pension funds, valued at about $500 billion.  
The party also wants the state's 33 public universities to purge such investments from their $12 billion in total endowments. The resolution will not likely result in new legislative action soon.  
However, it could generate enough support among the Democratic majority to pass a less aggressive divestment bill, Senate Bill 185, working its way through the state legislature. Beyond California, this resolution adds to the fast-growing momentum of the fossil fuel divestment movement, which kicked off on college campuses in 2011 and has spread to cities and major corporations worldwide.  
Before the final vote, RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party's environmental caucus and author of the resolution, delivered a one-minute speech. In an interview with InsideClimate News she recounted her message: "The world is watching...We need to send a moral message that California will not invest in those businesses that burn our planet in the name of profit and this resolution is that message. Divestment from South Africa helped bring down the system of apartheid and [divestment] will likewise bring down our dependence on fossil fuels. And further, [the] passage of this resolution will help pass Senate Bill 185."

AFAICT and from asking around, it's the first party convention to do this. I was surprised at the lack of coverage originally, but a little more has leaked out over the last few days.

This helps mainstream the divestment movement and show the party leadership where its activist base is coming from. We'll see what happens in coming months.

I've heard from South Africa divestment veterans that climate divestment is happening at a more rapid pace - I guess it depends on whether the starting point for South Africa was 1977 or 1984. Regardless, climate divestment is at least comparable.

UPDATE:  wiki says the South Africa divestment movement got 53 educational institutions to fully or partly divest in 1984, 127 in 1987, and 155 in 1988, so there are some markers to measure against. The link at the top says about two dozen universities have done some form of climate divestment so far.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Falling out of the clown car, down the stairs and into the electric eel pond.

I don't have much to say beyond go read how the $2m lawsuit against John Mashey by luckwarmists didn't go well. It's a heartwarming tale, and congrats to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for their great work.

My one semi-serious comment is that this is the quality of the opposition. We ought to be kicking their butts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Sound of Global Climate Change

From the University of Minnesota, Daniel Crawford, Scott St. George and GISSTemp comes