Op-ed: Jumpstart a clean energy economy (2012)

The Pasadena Star-News asked for an op-ed focusing on local solutions to global warming. Another website reposted my article while adding links and pictures.

Atmospheric CO2 is approaching 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years. That’s more than a 40 percent increase since the 19th century. It’s currently increasing at least 10 times faster than during the previous record high, which by strange coincidence was set right before the end-Permian extinction, 250 million years ago.

A mountain of evidence has convinced the overwhelming majority of scientists that our skyrocketing CO2 emissions have very likely caused most of the global warming since 1950. What does this mean for Southern California?

The National Academies recently projected about 1 to 5 feet of sea level rise along the Southern California coast by 2100. This will accelerate the erosion of our beaches, flood coastal properties, increase the salinity of coastal farmland and make winter storm surges punishing.

The increased chance of extreme heat waves increases drought severity and frequency, such as those in 2005 and 2010 in the Amazon, and 2011 in Texas and the Midwest. The study by Famiglietti et al. in 2011 showed that California’s Central Valley lost over four cubic miles of groundwater from 2003 to 2010 for irrigation. This dramatic withdrawal from our great underground water reservoirs points out the need for sustainable, robust water management now and into the future.

Heat waves, droughts and wildfires will be more severe in continental interiors, such as during the 2010 Russian wheat crisis. This is disturbing because much of America’s food is grown in the Midwest. Our CO2 emissions are also acidifying the oceans, which has been linked to marine extinctions even during a relatively minor CO2 excursion like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, 55 million years ago.

Over a billion people depend on seafood. We need resilient food security to feed our recklessly growing population.

Since 2001, more than a dozen national science academies have repeatedly urged world leaders to reduce CO2 emissions, without much success. As individuals, we must prepare for and slow down climate change.

Many solutions are available to homeowners: improved insulation, more efficient appliances, white roofs, turf-removal programs, solar thermal and solar electric panels. But what about apartment residents like me, who by default use about 58 percent coal power?

My electric company, Pasadena Water and Power, has a green power program, which allows customers to specify that their power comes from renewable sources. This only adds 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is a cheap but effective way to show power companies that we support clean energy. Pasadena residents with a garage could then use 100 percent wind power to charge a Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric. The technology is improving and the cost is decreasing.

My family doesn’t like CFL bulbs despite their efficiency because they turn on slowly and have poor light quality. However, I recently bought several Philips Ambient LED 12.5W bulbs. They look bizarre until they’re turned on, then they quickly shine just like dimmable 60W incandescent bulbs. At $23, they’re expensive, but should repay that investment through lower electricity bills during their six-year warranty period.

Individual actions aren’t enough; we desperately need real leadership at the national level. At the very least, we should stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.

We should also treat the waste from coal/gas power plants the same as waste from nuclear plants. Government regulations force nuclear plants to pay for waste disposal up front, but coal/gas plants get to treat our atmosphere as a free sewer. The Citizens Climate Lobby supports the Save Our Climate Act (SOCA) which calls for a gradually increasing fee on carbon-based fuels, with most revenue returned to individuals and some revenue committed to reducing the federal debt.

A revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend plan like SOCA would help jumpstart a new industrial revolution by harnessing the power of the market to innovate our way out of this mess. Fiscal conservatives should note that the longer we wait, the more invasive regulations we’ll need to retain some semblance of our current standard of living. Many Republicans should also note that SOCA will make nuclear power more competitive because nuclear plants only emit a few percent of the CO2 from equivalent coal plants, even considering mining and enrichment of uranium, containment dome curing and waste recycling.

In the freely-available video series “Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” Richard Alley explains that transitioning to clean energy will cost about as much as building our sewer system. I doubt that many people would give up indoor plumbing to save a few percent of GDP, so I’m baffled that so many people are willing to risk the water and food security of the next generations just to save a few percent of GDP. Personally, I think we should try to buy some time for the next generations to clean up our mess.

28 Responses to “Op-ed: Jumpstart a clean energy economy (2012)”

  1. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: I’ve been trying to post comments like this one since 2012-09-01, but they never appeared on my article at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. So I finally posted this reply here, at Slashdot, and at Mike Haseler’s website Scottish Sceptic.)

    Let’s get the facts straight. Even doubling CO2, means its greenhouse effect would only rise global temperatures by 1°C. That is half the threshold for action set by the IPCC.

    But, this scam has nothing to do with their real science. These charlatans would be predicting the same nonsense if CO2’s effect were twice as high or half as much, because the real contribution of CO2 is much smaller than the natural variation.

    And let’s not forget:

    1. This scam is based on a rise in temperature from 1970 to 2000 which happens to be coincident with rising CO2. The overwhelming bulk of this rise has nothing to do with CO2 greenhouse effect.

    2. Largely the same academics who cry wolf over this short term trend were crying wolf over the short term cooling before the 1970s.

    3. It all stopped in 2000 (1998 to be precise). That’s 14 years without warming, compared to the 30 year trend they say proves warming will continue till the earth fries (much like we were heading for an iceage)

    4. And just to cap it all, it warmed the same amount, for the same period, before CO2 was measured rising between 1910 and 1940 and guess what … we didn’t end up global warming doomsday then either. [Mike Haseler, 2012-09-01]

    0. Many diverse lines of evidence (paleoclimate, modern observations, fundamental physics) show that doubling CO2 warms the planet by roughly 3°C.

    1. Human CO2 forcing has increased dramatically since 1970, while solar irradiance, volcanic activity, cosmic rays, solar flares, etc. have remained about the same.

    2. Even during the 1970s, most scientific papers were predicting warming.

    3. Skeptical Science’s “going down the up escalator” shows at a glance that this often-repeated myth about global warming ending in 1998 is wrong.

    4. The rate of warming from 1910 to 1940 was about 0.13°C/decade compared to about 0.18°C/decade from 1975 to 2005. But scientists don’t simply compare the rates; they examine natural and human radiative forcings which change the global climate’s total energy, which is indeed an average over at least several decades. In the early 20th century there was a lull in volcanic eruptions which usually cool the climate by blocking sunlight for a few years. Early human CO2 emissions and a slight increase in the Sun’s brightness also played small roles. Internal variability modes, which shift energy from one part of the globe to another (i.e. climate cycles) are also important. Temperatures measured in the 1940s were warmer than the models; this discrepency is thought to be due in part to Arctic decadal variability.

  2. Bryan Killett Says:

    Many people fear change, but doesn’t mean it is so bad. I’d rather see it get warmer than colder. Looking forward to seeing Canada become more livable. The only constant is change.

    I’d rather see us focus on issues that are killing people today rather than in 100 years, like air pollution in cities. [Daniel Cardenas, 2012-09-01 at 11:51]

    Try googling the end-Permian extinction and the PETM. Life is generally… interesting… when the RATE of warming is as fast as we’re currently causing the Earth to warm.

  3. Bryan Killett Says:

    The following sentences were abridged in the final version:

    Pasadena residents with a garage could then use 100% wind power to charge a Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric for round-trip commutes of about 70 miles. A Chevy Volt provides a shorter 40 mile electric range, but also has a backup gasoline engine for emergencies or road trips.

  4. Bryan Killett Says:

    Bryan Killett: 8-31-12 As individuals, we must prepare for and slow down climate change. Hmm. No. [‏@mark57g]

    @mark57g Very compelling argument, but I disagree. It would be the least we could do for our descendants. http://bit.ly/Uv3XqZ

  5. Bryan Killett Says:

    We, prepare for and slow down climate change? = Slow down eating and prepare for weight gain? , Or just eat less & exercise? [‏@mark57g]

    @mark57g If that’s how you interpreted the article you quoted and I linked, I’m not sure that communication is possible. Have a nice day.

  6. Bryan Killett Says:

    Our species cannot afford to underestimate the required response to avoid biosphere collapse. Shall we have a nice century? [‏@mark57g]

    @mark57g Individuals push corps though market research and gov’s through votes. Carbon fee and dividend is next step, drawing out CO2 next..

  7. Bryan Killett Says:

    corpse & guvna’s? Craykee. Tha’s more’n 2 ways ta trim carbn footprints: biosphere Ushahidi, NGOs, coalitions of the willing– [‏@mark57g]

    Best case scenario: Twitter’s 140 character limit makes conversations unintelligible.

  8. Bryan Killett Says:

    Vicki Kirschenbaum wrote an op-ed for the Pasadena Star-News. Dave Miles responded in a letter to the editor:

    The first thing that drew my attention to Vicki Kirschenbaum’s recent op-ed piece was the title: “Legislation the No. 1 way to stop global warming.”

    Implying legislation or anything else could stop natural climatological changes is at the root of feelings-based decision making. I would ask Ms. Kirschenbaum to set aside her feelings for a short time and open up to a more common-sense approach to her analysis.

    Start by reading something from another point of view and inject balance into your decision making. I suggest “Heaven and Earth” by Ian Plimer, a prominent geologist and professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

    Liberal ideology depends upon playing on emotion and the exclusion of rational thought. Look at decisions with an eye toward long-term consequences, not short-term good feelings. There can be balance that appeals to both sides. [Dave Miles]

    The overwhelming majority of the scientific community has concluded that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2.

    Dave Miles’ assumption that these changes are simply natural cycles contradicts modern observations, evidence gathered from the ancient climate, and physics itself.

    Instead of repeatedly implying that Vicki Kirschenbaum is engaging in “feelings-based decision making,” Mr. Miles might ask why Ian Plimer represents such an extreme minority of the scientific community. Googling for “Plimer vs. Plimer” reveals blatant self-contradictions in “Heaven and Earth” that may begin to answer this question.

    In 2009, 13 national science academies signed a joint statement telling world leaders that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.” These aren’t partisan organizations, and the scientific community certainly isn’t excluding rational thought or focusing on short-term good feelings. So why are people like Vicki repeatedly accused of such failings when they have the temerity to agree with the scientific community?

    It’s a mystery.

  9. Bryan Killett Says:

    Against carbon tax

    Is it real? Maybe. Can we reverse it? Emphatically no. I’m neither a scientist nor an expert on climate changes but I’d like to think that I was blessed with a fair amount of common sense.

    Common sense tells me that a tax on carbon emission in the U.S. does absolutely nothing to affect global temperatures other than to enrich governments. Not in 10 years and not in a thousand years. How can we be so arrogant as to think that we are able to change the cycles of planetary existence?

    Our planet has probably endured thousands of heat and ice ages of unimaginable magnitudes over the past four billion years. And it is still existing. Does the sun have any effect on global temperatures? Maybe. But it is absurd to think that people in California can reduce global warming by driving smaller cars or using our air conditioners less frequently.

    Understand that I am totally in favor of recycling and preserving our natural resources. That makes common sense, and it will keep our planet in good health for future generations to enjoy it. We are able to control that, once the rest of the world participates. But global warming? The key to human survival is to adapt to temperature changes by any way possible, not to fight it. [Paul Stehrenberger, 2012-10-08]

    “Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”

    Common sense tells Paul Stehrenberger that carbon emissions don’t affect global temperatures. However, scientists used experiments and basic physics to arrive at the opposite conclusion in the 1800s. Their conclusion was repeatedly confirmed by over a century of careful analyses, which is why scientists call CO2 a “greenhouse gas.”

    Mr. Stehrenberger then points to past ice ages, apparently unaware that evidence from the ancient climate is one of the many reasons that scientists like Richard Alley call CO2 the climate’s “biggest control knob.” Increasing CO2 caused temperatures to spike during the Permian extinction and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, and even thawed Snowball Earth.

    And now we’re dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at least 10 times faster than before the Permian extinction. To answer Mr. Stehrenberger’s question, this is why the overwhelming majority of scientists are “arrogant” enough to think that our skyrocketing carbon emissions are warming the planet.

    Humans can adapt to natural changes. But our carbon emissions are warming the globe and acidifying the oceans too quickly for many species and ecosystems to adapt, so I think we have an obligation to stop emitting CO2 as quickly as possible. If we act quickly, future generations might not have to adapt to “too many” extinctions and natural disasters. They might even eventually forgive us for delaying action at this critical moment in human history.

  10. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: I wrote this comment as a reply to Russell Cook.)

    After trying to talk with dozens of contrarians, it’s clear that almost all of them are unpaid. Funding seems unnecessary because their motivations are often tied to conspiratorial thinking, an intense desire to prove egghead scientists wrong, and a curious inability to recognize their own scientific incompetence.

    Just for the record, I’m a geophysicist studying GRACE satellite data, and I thought the PBS special “Climate of Doubt” painted a disturbingly accurate picture of the modern anti-science movement. Anyone who found it informative would also benefit from reading “Merchants of Doubt”. Russell Cook’s rant at WUWT was a fractally wrong Gish Gallop that shows once again how pointless engagement with contrarians is.

    Russell Cook, Anthony Watts, the Heartland Institute, etc.: please stop spamming humanity with all this misinformation. It’s threatening the future of our civilization.

    Update: Russell Cook responds below.

  11. Bryan Killett Says:

    Grace is a failure – its not measuring what you think.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/29/amazing-grace/ [Eric Worrall]

    GRACE isn’t a failure, Eric. The GRACE follow-on mission is scheduled to launch in ~2017, precisely because NASA recognizes that GRACE data are invaluable for studying the Earth’s changing gravity field.

    That WUWT article you linked consists of Steven Goddard’s unfounded claims about GRACE scientists. Sadly, when Robert explained exactly how he was wrongin depth, Goddard accused him of using strawman arguments, and twice accused him of dishonesty before inevitably babbling about Al Gore.

    I’m a geophysicist studying GRACE data, and I don’t appreciate Steven Goddard’s baseless accusations, or the endless series of internet ninjas like Eric Worrall who regurgitate them. Please stop spamming humanity with all this misinformation. It’s threatening the future of our civilization.

  12. Bryan Killett Says:

    Goddard’s point that GRACE is showing ice melt in places where the summer temperature averages -30c is a valid one. Grace is measuring something – but not necessarily ice movement. [Eric Worrall]

    No, Goddard’s claim isn’t valid because GRACE reveals ice sheet thinning, which in Antarctica is primarily due to glacier acceleration, not melting. Glaciers are calving (creating icebergs) at an accelerating rate, which reduces the pressure on the rest of the glacier, speeding up its slide into the ocean. Anyone who clicked the links I provided would’ve already seen Robert’s helpful list of publications which make exactly that point. Skeptical Science even has a series of articles debunking Goddard’s claims. Since then, Rignot et al. 2011 (PDF) used InSAR to map these glacier velocities, once again independently confirming that GRACE-observed mass loss correlates with high glacier velocities.

    I write open-source software which processes GRACE acceleration data to reveal the following present-day mass trend (here’s a Google Earth overlay, and other versions). Notice the crustal deformation from the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. GRACE also detected the 2005 and 2010 Amazon droughts, and the 2011 La Nina floods which were so strong, the oceans fell. GRACE also tracks global water storage. My research uses GRACE acceleration data to detect changes in gravity due to ocean tides, and I’ve described some of GRACE’s many contributions in my Slashdot interview.

    So scientists are well aware that GRACE data contain a wealth of information about the climate and the Earth’s crust. Untangling these contributions is what we do for a living, after all. GRACE reveals mass loss in Greenland, West Antarctica, Patagonia, Alaska, the Himalayas, etc. Laser altimetry, radar interferometry and mass balance/flux measurements confirm this mass loss, as Robert noted. The largest remaining uncertainty is probably post-glacial rebound, but it can’t be responsible for accelerating mass loss.

    Goddard really isn’t a credible source of information about science. For instance, a few months after he attacked GRACE scientists, Goddard confused triple points so badly that even Anthony Watts was forced to say “Steven, you really need to stop. … you are [behaving incredibly badly] A few months after that, Goddard accused Marc Airhart of contradicting himself because Goddard confused relative and absolute humidity. I tried to post a short comment correcting this mistake. My comment never showed up, of course.

    About a month before Goddard’s article, Willis Eschenbach attacked GRACE scientists for similarly baseless reasons. Eschenbach’s blood boiled as he confused himself and others about GRACE, but he managed to heroically restrain himself (mostly) from “loudly speculating on the ancestry, personal habits, and sexual malpractices of the author”.

    After suffering through Steven Goddard’s, Willis Eschenbach’s and Rush Limbaugh’s baseless accusations against GRACE scientists, it’s clear that they’re all incapable of changing their minds. The fact that Eric Worrall has twice regurgitated Goddard’s accusation without even bothering to address the points Robert and I have raised suggests that Eric has also lost his battle with Morton’s demon. Nevertheless…

    Eric, please stop spamming humanity with all this misinformation. It’s staining your legacy and threatening the future of our civilization.

  13. Bryan Killett Says:

    Even if you are right, at 152 cubic km / year ice loss, the Antarctic ice sheet will take 30 million cubic km of ice / 100 cubic km / year = 300,000 years to disappear, give or take. [Eric Worrall]

    Outside of WUWT, who cares when the entire ice sheet disappears? What matters is that ice sheet thinning increases sea level, and that current research indicates that this (and thermosteric expansion) will cause sea level to rise 1-2 meters by 2100.

    Sorry, got 2 different numbers from different sources – 152 & 100km ice loss per year.

    It’s hard to tell the cause of that discrepency because you didn’t cite your sources, but Goddard’s calculation seems strangely familiar. Either they’re using different models of post-glacial rebound (Antarctica’s PGR correction is more uncertain than Greenland’s) or they’re talking about different timespans.

    Even SkS puts the current contribution of Antarctic ice loss to global sea level at around 1mm / year.

    That depends on which timespan you consider. For instance, here are two recent papers:

    “Since 1992, the polar ice sheets have contributed, on average, 0.59 ± 0.20 mm/year to the rate of global sea-level rise.”

    “… the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, including their peripheral GICs, contributed 1.06 ± 0.19 mm/year to sea level rise” from 2003 to 2010.

    Notice that the second estimate (which refers to a more recent timespan) is almost twice as large as the first. That isn’t an isolated incident. Scientists aren’t concerned about the current rate of ice sheet mass loss, we’re concerned because it’s obviously accelerating.

    A reasonable description of the current rate of ice loss is “noise”.

    No, that’s an incorrect description. Signal is distinguished from noise using statistics. I just calculated the statistical significance of Greenland’s (and West Antarctica’s) ice sheet mass loss since 2003 using the new JPL GRACE mascon solutions. Their trends/rates are both significant at the 95% confidence level, even when using an ARMA(1,1) noise model. Their accelerations are also statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. So both the trends and the accelerations are “signal”. I’m writing a Dumb Scientist post about statistical significance, and will release my R code and data when I’m finished.

    Only a radical acceleration of ice loss could turn this rate of SLR into a threat.

    Ice sheet mass loss is already accelerating faster than the models (including JPL’s Ice Sheet System Model) predicted. Basic physics and paleoclimate evidence both imply that this acceleration will continue. That’s why sea level is rising faster than the IPCC predicted. Scientists have already determined that sea level rise is a threat, because the extra meter (at least) that we expect by 2100 will:

    • Flood Bangladesh, Tuvalu, Venice, New Orleans, threaten New York and other major cities, etc.
    • Add to storm surges, roughly increasing a hurricane’s surge by one category. This means a storm surge that would’ve happened once in a century will happen roughly every 5-10 years.
    • Increase the salinity of coastal farmland (which poisons crops) much farther inland than the actual movement of the shoreline.

    Eric, please stop spamming humanity with all this misinformation. It’s staining your legacy and threatening the future of our civilization.

  14. Bryan Killett Says:

    Eric asks to let him know when the models predict something before it happens. … [John Byatt]

    That’s an excellent list compiled by Barton Paul Levenson, who includes references for both the predictions and confirmations. However, he’s being too kind when he says that a bug was found in the UAH satellite data. There were actually at least four separate bugs, all found by other scientists. Here’s a brief timeline:

    Spencer and Christy 1990 claimed their UAH satellite temperature record was “more precise” than surface measurements, and revealed “no obvious trend” from 1979-1988. Dr. Spencer’s later statements suggest he was being very modest.

    Gary and Keihm 1991 showed that natural variability in only 10 years of UAH data was so large that the UAH temperature trend was statistically indistinguishable from that predicted by climate models.

    Hurrell and Trenberth 1997 found that UAH merged different satellite records incorrectly, which resulted in a spurious cooling trend.

    Wentz and Schabel 1998 found that UAH didn’t account for orbital decay of the satellites, which resulted in a spurious cooling trend.

    Fu et al. 2004 found that stratospheric cooling had contaminated the UAH analysis, which resulted in a spurious cooling trend.

    Mears and Wentz 2005 found that UAH didn’t account for drifts in the time of measurement each day, which resulted in a spurious cooling trend.

    After these bugs were fixed, the UAH data revealed a warming trend that’s consistent with climate models and with surface measurements.

    I’ll debunk Eric’s other claims when I get a chance, but I’m at the Fall AGU conference trying to simultaneously prepare my talk, attend other scientists’ talks, and debunk Jane Q. Public’s similar claims. So it might be a while before I respond, especially because these conversations are obviously complete wastes of my time. In the meantime, Eric might want to look carefully at the dates on Barton Paul Levenson’s prediction and confirmation references, and then reconsider his accusation that scientists aren’t making predictions. I’m not holding my breath, though…

    Update: Continued here.

  15. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: this comment was copied from here. This wasn’t Robert Fanning’s or Mr Magoo’s first time spreading dangerous misinformation.)

    Robert Fanning and Mr Magoo 5 demonstrate that the biggest obstacle to addressing the CO2 problem is willful scientific illiteracy. Fanning claims that global temperature has no connection to CO2, which is complete nonsense: scientists have known since the 1800s that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The US Air Force even confirmed this basic fact during the 1950s, so Fanning’s claim is patently absurd.

    Mr Magoo 5 then claims that the entire solar system is warming, which is also complete nonsense: solar brightness/flares and cosmic rays haven’t increased over the last 50 years, but Earth alone has warmed anomalously. As a JPL geophysicist studying GRACE satellite data, I’m offended by Mr Magoo’s claim that NASA is the source of his nonsense. Anyone who visits climate.nasa.gov could learn how we know that our CO2 is warming the planet.

    Fanning claims that a carbon tax is simply a way to steal money from the people. Apparently he hasn’t heard about the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, led by Republicans Art Laffer and Bob Inglis. These conservatives propose a solution: cut taxes on something we want more of- income- and tax something we want less of- CO2 emissions. This revenue neutral approach will create jobs and improve the food and water security for future generations.

  16. Bryan Killett Says:

    Atmospheric CO2 is higher now than it’s been in millions of years. It hasn’t been this high since before our species evolved. Today, we’re pumping out CO2 at least 10 times faster than during the previous record high, which was set 250 million years ago… right before the end-Permian extinction.

    Obama is right: we need to do more to combat climate change. The future of our civilization depends on Congress passing a fiscally conservative revenue-neutral fee on carbon pollution. Leaders who are courageous enough to side with the scientific community should know that their support helps improve the food and water security for future generations. As a bonus, stopping coal plants from treating our atmosphere as a free sewer will create jobs by harnessing the free market to jumpstart a new industrial revolution based on clean energy.

  17. Bryan Killett Says:

    I met Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) last Friday as a volunteer for the Citizens Climate Lobby.

    I showed this GRACE mass trend on my phone, noting the ice mass loss in Greenland, West Antarctica and Alaska.

    GRACE mass trend from 2002-2010.

    Then I showed a graph of three ways we can limit global warming to 3.6°F, depending on the year we peak our CO2 emissions.

    Waiting makes the problem worse.

    If we had peaked in 2011, we could slowly reduce emissions along the green curve. If you were to ski the green curve, it would be the bunny slope.

    Note that if we’d peaked in 2011, future generations would have the choice of emitting some CO2 after the 2040s. By waiting just a few years, we’ve already taken that choice away from them.

    If we wait until 2020 to peak, we’d have to reduce emissions 9% per year afterwards. That’s not a bunny slope, it’s more like a black diamond.

    We need to address the CO2 problem right now.

  18. Bryan Killett Says:

    From: Bryan.Killett AT jpl.nasa.gov

    To: keystonecomments@state.gov

    Dear Secretary Kerry and President Obama,

    I’m geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, studying data from the GRACE satellites: Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. My colleagues and I see massive ice sheet mass loss all over the world, and accelerating loss in Greenland and West Antarctica. Melting ice is what we expect in a warming world, and there’s a mountain of evidence that most of the warming since 1950 is due to our CO2 emissions.

    Our CO2 emissions are threatening the future of our civilization. Your firm stance on climate change in your second Inaugural Address and State of the Union speech gave me the first glimmer of hope I’ve felt in years. Now is the time to translate those inspiring words into meaningful action. If we can’t say no to Keystone XL, what can we say no to? A line must be drawn in the sand.

    Thank you for your courageous leadership,

    Bryan Killett

  19. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: This comment was published by the Pasadena Star News and San Bernardino Sun.)

    In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences and a dozen other science academies told world leaders that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

    Australia and British Columbia have already stopped their coal plants from treating our atmosphere like a free sewer. They did this by charging the fossil fuel industry for their carbon pollution, then returning these fees to citizens as dividends.

    Republicans Art Laffer and Bob Inglis agree that this revenue-neutral approach is fiscally conservative. Instead of taxing something we want more of, like income, let’s tax something we need less of: carbon pollution.

  20. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: Rob Haw and I wrote this response to letters published in the Pasadena Star News.)

    Kolstad simply assumes that a carbon tax hinders the economy, but renewable energies create more jobs per unit output than fossil energy. That is well documented.

    In response to Frederick: a carbon tax won’t be collected from renewable energy, thereby making it more competitive (renewable energy sources don’t burn fossil fuels). Economic risk management requires us to reduce CO2 emissions quickly, and this will help jump-start the clean energy economy that will safeguard our civilization.

    De Prisco is “fractally wrong”. The climate has not flatlined for 15 years, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this response to Schmitt and Happer’s dreadful WSJ opinion piece. Even if we strap on the climate contrarians’ self-imposed blinders and stare myopically at only the surface temperatures, this shared code shows that there hasn’t been a statistically significant change in the rate of surface warming. Anyone can calculate the full range of the error bars on the recent surface temperature trend to confirm this.

    De Prisco’s claim that increased atmospheric CO2 is a result of warming would be hysterical if this weren’t so serious. That’s the way the climate used to work, but Henry’s Gas Law can only account for ~20 ppm (at most) of the increase since the pre-industrial era. Plus, if atmospheric CO2 were coming from the oceans, the CO2 dissolved in the oceans wouldn’t be increasing. But it is. Plus, if this were responsible for CO2 increasing, the amount of oxygen in the air wouldn’t be decreasing at the same time. But it is. Plus, the 12C/13C ratio in the atmosphere wouldn’t be rising. But it is. Plus, we’d have to find out where all our massive CO2 emissions were going…

    Komsky compares Arctic sea ice to Antarctic ice, but Arctic loss is faster than Antarctic gain.

    Molen and Knapp don’t need to worry: a tariff will be placed at the border for any country without a similar carbon fee. This American border tariff will encourage other countries to put a price on carbon pollution because they will gain no advantage in our marketplace.

  21. Russell Cook (@questionAGW) Says:

    ” … Russell Cook’s rant at WUWT was a fractally wrong Gish Gallop… ”

    I disagree, of course, having specifically pointed out faults within the Frontline program in detail which the PBS Ombudsman and Frontline person subsequently refused to explain away.

    Call my WUWT piece a “Gish Gallop” if it makes you feel better, but if you are literally unable or unwilling to tell what my ‘half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments’ were, then your AGW-promoter friends will not readily look to you as a source to help them understand why the material I write is without merit.

    Since you have the floor here, please indulge us as to what my misinformation is and what unfounded conspiracy I push. As my own work centers around the notion that skeptic scientists are paid to lie about the issue by the fossil fuel industry, how does it follow that such an accusation is not the kind of unfounded conspiratorial thinking you despise, when no such evidence is available for you to prove it? E.g., full context document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts, or any other physical proof for money being paid in exchange for demonstratively false, fabricated science papers, reports or viewpoints. You have noticed that whenever Al Gore and others make the accusation, they never show you the actual evidence to back it up, have you not?

  22. Bryan Killett Says:

    Your Gallop repeated “Steven Goddard’s” misinformation about sea level rise, and falsely attributed that misinformation to CU.

    That’s just one example. Gish Gallops bury scientists in a flood of misinformation. I’ve already responded to dozens of Gallops, but that was obviously a complete waste of time. So I’ll pass, thanks.

  23. Russell Cook (@questionAGW) Says:

    Thanks for the response, considering you could have just as well deleted it. And of course you are free to pass on my challenge, I have no problem with that, although your readers may be a bit disappointed about the lost opportunity to address an arguably non-science angle to it.

    But I offer two questions: I write a WUWT guest post just over 4000 words in length largely addressing PBS Frontline’s bias against skeptic climate scientists while citing ample evidence of this and noting a particular focus on the manner in which skeptic scientists stand accused of being on the payroll of ‘big coal & oil’….. but you labeled my collective effort as a Gish Gallop because of a single reference to Steve Goddard’s blog. Is that the best you can do?

    You are not able to refute a single word I say on the appearance of the accusation against skeptic scientists being not only baseless but also apparently originating with a highly questionable small group of enviro-activists back in the mid ’90s?

  24. Bryan Killett Says:

    Anyone who wants a “non-science angle” can get that at your twitter account, “Steven Goddard’s” blog, WUWT, and hundreds of other contrarian blogs.

    Again, I’ve already responded to dozens of Gallops, but that was obviously a complete waste of time. So I’ll pass again, thanks.

  25. Russell Cook (@questionAGW) Says:

    Of course, I invite folks to have a look at SkS, RealClimate, etc, along with Watts’ Goddard’s & others and decide for themselves what constitutes “non-science”.

    But my own twitter account has never concentrated on science arguments. It points to occasional contradictory claims of the two sides of the issue, and largely to what appears to be massive problems in the core accusation that skeptics are corrupt shills of the fossil fuel industry. You never noticed that yet?

  26. Bryan Killett Says:

    I’m not interested. Have a nice day.

    Update: I’ve failed to communicate once again.

  27. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: This comment was submitted to the LA Times in response to Climate policy’s twin challenges.)

    Most people buy fire insurance every year even though the odds of their house burning down are relatively low. The odds of catastrophic climate change are difficult to quantify, but I suspect they’re higher than the odds of my house burning down this year.

    So let’s take out a rational insurance policy on the climate by stopping the fossil fuel industry from treating our atmosphere like a free sewer. Charging them for their carbon pollution and returning the dividends to all Americans will create jobs by encouraging clean energy development and protect us against price increases. Applying the same fee to fossil fuel imports will protect domestic industries and encourage other countries to follow our lead.

    If 97% of climate scientists are wrong, we can always burn that coal later. If they’re not, this plan is the least we could do for future generations.

  28. Bryan Killett Says:

    (Ed. note: This was written in response to a letter by Stan Sholar in the Orange County Register.)

    Stan Sholar joins Dana Rohrabacher in baselessly accusing climate scientists of fraud. Sholar claims he’s using “real data and not inaccurate government controlled predictive models that have consistently overestimated temperatures.”

    Ironically, scientists are worried about the warming caused by our CO2 emissions because of a mountain of real data. For instance, ancient climate history is recorded in ice and rocks. Royer et al. 2007 analyzed these data and concluded that for the last 420 million years, CO2 has acted as a greenhouse gas that warms the Earth by at least 1.5°C when CO2 is doubled. This isn’t news to scientists: that same lower bound was also given in the 1979 Charney report. This conclusion is based on real data, not “government controlled” models.

    Sholar then denies that temperatures have kept rising over the last 15 years. The Skeptical Science trend calculator easily shows that the surface warming trend over the last 15 years is indistinguishable from the trend over the previous 15 years. The large error bars on the two estimated trends overlap, which just shows that 15 years is too brief to average out short-term weather noise to reveal the underlying long-term climate signal. It’s easy to cherry-pick short “cooling trends” even during long-term warming, as you can see by googling “going down the up escalator”.

    This short-term weather noise happens because surface temperatures only account for a few percent of the climate’s total heat. Roughly 90% of the heat we’re adding goes into the ocean, but brief variations in that fraction can temporarily overwhelm surface warming. However, the Argo probes have confirmed that the deep ocean continues to warm over the last 15 years. Also, the GRACE and CryoSat satellites confirm global ice loss on land and ocean over the last 15 years, which absorbs heat without warming as it melts.

    That’s why 45 national and international science societies and 97% of peer-reviewed scientific papers taking a position on this subject agree that humans are warming the Earth. Scientists understand the troubling implications of ancient climate events like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and the end-Permian extinction, which might be why the National Academy of Sciences joined a dozen other science academies in 2009 to warn world leaders that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

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