Thursday, July 20, 2017

Russell Cook Deceives Again

If you follow opinion pieces on climate change you quickly recognize a pattern that appears over and over: Tom Harris will lie and Russell Cook will show up to be his pit bull when Harris is challenged. We recently were privileged to observe this tag-team at work in the Duluth News Tribune.

Tom Harris, if you aren't familiar with him, is a paid shill of the fossil fuel industry and it's his job to place anti-science pieces in as many news media outlets as possible in a campaign to undermine climate science. Harris has a long resume of association with the fossil fuel and tobacco industries, which he tries to hide, but the Internet doesn't forget and his track record is well documented. You can read about Harris and his record at TomHarrisPaidShill.

Harris placed one of his misinformation pieces in the Duluth New Tribune, a news media that is an unfortunately friendly place for the anti-science crowd. In this letter to the editor, Harris proposed that scientific theories are nothing more than opinions. Interestingly enough, the original letter has disappeared but was at this link here (in case it reappears at some future time). You can read the response Terry and I made here.

If you read our response, you'll be able to see just how fraudulent Harris' claims are and readers responded accordingly. Here is one response. Sure enough, when Harris was challenged, he ran and called in Russell Cook to do one of his attack pieces. Read it here. In case it also disappears, I've made a copy of it for future reference.

Russell Cook is a hatchet-man for the Heartland Institute who gets paid thousands of dollars to obsess over Ross Gelbspan. Gelbspan was an accomplished reporter and won the Pulitzer prize while with the Boston Globe, but he has since retired. [CORRECTION: Gelbspan conceived, directed and edited a series of articles in the Boston Globe that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984. But, he was not named on the prize.] Today, he writes an occasional blog post. So, Cook is either obsessed with a retired guy or a blogger. Take your pick. Either way, it doesn't reflect well on Cook. My first run-in with Cook was several years ago when he made a poorly-disguised threat on this blog to sue me if I didn't stop criticizing the Heartland Institute. I showed it to two lawyers who both agreed it was an effort to intimidate me. He picked the wrong guy. I not only laughed at him, but begged him to sue me. I still am. It would be so much fun to get him in court. He quickly backed down and claims I over reacted. Again, two lawyers agreed with me.

One of Cook's traits in his attacks is to simply proclaim nothing is evidence until he says it is. If he doesn't like the facts, he merely declares they aren't facts and moves on. In this way, he creates an alternative universe where he's always right because he says so. For example, examine his latest letter in the Duluth News Tribune in response to the letter of July 5th which criticized Tom Harris.

In the first line, Cook states, "Letters like the one July 5, "Don't believe climate deniers," that describe cataclysmic-sounding situations as evidence of the certainty of man-caused global warming..." Wait a minute. Go back to the July 5th letter and show me where the author describes "cataclysmic-sounding situations" anywhere. The fact is, she doesn't. She references some events that are actually occurring and suggests the deniers are creating an alternative universe (they're good at that) that could be disastrous for us in "25 to 50 years." That's it. If she isn't making those claims, then why is Cook? Maybe it's to attack the author of that letter and make it sound as if she doesn't have any credibility.

But, he continues with, "...are often livid at the mere mention of famous-name climatologists and climate-denier organizations which doubt it." Wow! Twice in just the first line! Once again, the author of that letter said NOTHING about being 'livid' and Cook provided NO climatologists who doubt it. One of the things people like Cook hate is the fact that essentially every climate scientists in the world who is active in the field acknowledges manmade climate change is real. This has been firmly established by multiple studies, including by the deniers themselves. Read about it here. So, we know why Cook didn't produce the names of any of these "famous-name climatologists." It's because he can't.

I think you probably already see the pattern of the Harris/Cook tag team. But, let's continue.

Cook goes on to claim there is no evidence that the fossil fuel industry has been funding the anti-science community to protect it's profits.
Far worse, there's been no media revelations about Exxon or any other fossil-fuel industry being caught with secret material proving it conspired with "industry-bought scientists" to create and orchestrate a deception campaign where all agreed to spread lies and fabricate reports to the public in order to save the profits of the industry.
Really, Russell? Do you expect anyone to believe that? At least, anyone who isn't in your alternative universe? Let's see, try reading this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. Just for starters. And, by the way, this evidence includes internal documents from the Heartland Institute detailing their efforts. These documents were so damaging Heartland threatened to sue anyone who posted the documents and then, when they couldn't get them removed, changed strategies and claimed they were fakes, despite the fact that they were received directly from Heartland. Additionally, word analysis showed they came from the same source as other Heartland documents.

Of course, Cook will just tell you this isn't evidence. Welcome to his alternative universe.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Update on the 2017 Arctic Melt Season

I made a posting on March 22 where I made a way-too-early forecast on the Arctic sea ice melt season. In that forecast I calculated the sea ice minimum extent for this year would approach 3 million square kilometers, which would easily be the minimum extent ever measured. The season is well advanced, so I thought this would be a good time to update that forecast and see how things are panning out.

To start with, this is the Charctic graph from NSIDC for July 4:

Source: NSIDC

As you can see, the current extent is competing with the lowest extents ever recorded for this date.The actual extent NSIDC reports for July 15 this year is 7.857 million square kilometers, which is more than 1.7 million square kilometers below the 1981-2010 average extent of 9.564 million square kilometers for that date.

This is the sea extent as shown by the Climate Change Institute (click on the image to view a larger version):

Source: CCI
The light blue line shows the 1979-2000 average sea ice extent. The ice-covered area is designated with a white-to-gray coloration. The more gray it is, the more broken-up the ice is with solid ice shown as pure white. As we can see, none, or very little, of the sea ice is shown as pure white. It is almost all some shade of gray. It also easy to see that areas that were historically ice-bound this time of year are now ice free. Take a look at Hudson Bay. It is almost entirely ice free (and has been for several weeks now), but historically would still have extensive amounts of ice. The Northwest Passage across northern Canada and Alaska is almost open, which would be a historically early occurrence for this rare event.

Here is the map of the sea ice extent from the Danish Polar Portal:
Source: Polar Portal
Again, the shade of the ice indicates the amount of coverage with sold ice being pure white. We can see, once again, that there is very little area that is pure ice. Most of the Arctic sea ice is broken up to various degrees. This is important because breaking the ice up into smaller pieces increases the surface area and makes it easier for it to melt. Broken ice will melt faster than solid ice.

But, extent isn't the only factor we need to consider. We also need to look at the ice thickness. This is the sea ice thickness as provided by the Polar Institute with the scale shown on the bottom of the image:

Source: Polar Portal

The cooler the color, the thinner the ice. This shows the ice is not only breaking up, but is also very thin.

Comparing these graphs makes me believe we will see all of the dark blue, purple and violet areas in the above graph melt by the end of the melt season in September. The red and white areas will survive. At this time of year, I think the green areas will, too, but in a much thinner state. Which leaves the light blue areas and I think about half of those areas will melt. On the map above, I estimate the minimum extent will still cover about half of the circular area around the pole and fill approximately two of the 10-degree blocks south of that circle. Using the same math I used in my March 22 posting, this comes out to be about 2 million square kilometers for the northernmost circle and about 325,000 square kilometers for each of the squares. This comes out to a total of approximately 2.7 million square kilometers.

A major factor is the weather. The Arctic weather started the year much warmer than average, but it has been mild-to-cold this summer and not as conducive to melting sea ice as in previous years. Here is a graph from NSIDC showing the cumulative freezing days starting on July 1 of the previous year and continuing to July 1 of the current year. The shaded areas show the percentile ranges (as listed) over the period 1981 through 2010:
Source: NSIDC
We can see the 2017 season has been significantly warmer than any other year and has been far outside of the percentile ranges. But, we can also see the difference from the base-line has decreased in recent weeks.

The weather factor is discussed at length in this PIOMASS posting. In particular, take a look at the graph of the Daily Average Arctic Sea Ice Thickness From PIOMASS located at the bottom of the posting, right before the comments section. This graph shows the thickness is not only historically low, but it has been all year. But, one of the things documented in this post is that the difference between 2017 and 2012 (the year of record low extent) is closing, where 2017 was much lower than 2012 to begin with. Using this input, let's postulate that the ice melt will not occur quite as severely as I speculated above. Based on that input from PIOMAS and NSIDC, let's bump the minimum extent estimate up to an even 3.0 million square kilometers.

This estimate is consistent with my March estimate and would be dangerously lower than the previous lowest minimum extent of 3.4 million square kilometers that occurred in 2012.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Guest Post: If they only knew

I recently engaged in a long debate with a denier who came across as being a little sophisticated and who used quotes from various research papers (mainly about the fact that often, insufficient data renders definite conclusions hard to arrive at), yet the fact that almost all of these research papers also discuss AGW as being a well-known fact, meant nothing to him.

Being a layman with enough knowledge of science to know that mainstream arguments (such as on the skeptical science website) make a great deal of sense, but without much technical know-how at my disposal, I usually focus on the inherent absurdities in the horrendous conspiracy theories people like him support-which are really not supportable i.e. the claim that Climate scientists only do research to make money and are afraid to reveal "the truth," lest they be destroyed by powerful administrations, or, that they are secretly plotting to gain control of the world's future energy economy.

I can only respond by mentioning that ordinarily research done by academics employed in our universities is compensated to cover only the costs involved in doing research, or, for lost wages when they are unable to teach (for example). I also like to point out that the vast majority of climate and earth scientists have continued to make the same projections no matter which administration happens to be in power, yet have ignored many opportunities like those available during GWs tenure, when the man most responsible for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, and who expressed serious doubts about man's role in AGW-could have gladly removed the yoke of coercion which liberal Democrats had supposedly placed scientist's backs?

Then there's the fact that the data about climate change, has remained basically the same, during ANY administration, and that what is happening today, was projected by climate scientists long ago, (in the 1980s and before). So previous scientists must have had access to a time machine which enabled them to know what the future would bring? I also like to point out how reasonable it is to assume that the very powers that cling to the sources of their wealth, such as large oil and/or coal companies, are the ones who are obviously spending a fortune just to create doubts about AGW, and that, scientific researchers make nowhere near the big bucks earned by executives and CEOs or others, from either running their businesses or being lucratively employed by mega companies like Exxon Mobile? However, my opponents almost never address these issues in their responses, and rely instead on using red herrings and ad hominem attacks. So, I have concluded that deniers like these are just not interested in the truth, or in having a rational debate-however well-formed and logical that debate may be.

One of the people I exchanged comments with, had a habit of demeaning and insulting me, or at the very least, using very condescending language while trying to enlighten me with more of his speculations about, and denials of, the mountain of evidence that supports the reality of AGW. Just before I quit commenting to him, I tried to bring to his attention the fact that he had used some pretty ugly insults and antagonistic comments while making his responses to me, (which he continued to deny)? I actually tried to prove my observations by copying one of his most nasty diatribes about me, and then posting it right below my comment about the many nasty things he had said, which thus affirmed his own verbal abuses. What was his response? He just doubled down on denial and claimed that his own caustic use of insults did not even exist-even though the proof that thoroughly disputed this fact, was right there in plain print and in front of his nose???

Obviously, many deniers are not even focused on using persuasive or rational arguments to prove or disprove points. All they need to do is create doubts in the minds of those who can be fooled by pseudo-science and then see nothing wrong with voting for politicians who spread blatant denials in order to block crucial climate legislation. As my mother-in-law used to say, "It's so stupid that it stinks!"

What deniers are currently doing is spreading falsehoods under the protection of the 1st amendment, while opinion page editors everywhere, refrain from correcting the many lies and bits of misinformation that deniers commonly use! Most of these editors think there are still good reasons to "continue the debate," just because (as in any scientific endeavor), there continues to be many things that are not yet known, and thus, this fact can be used by deniers to claim that the science itself, is still not settled. Still, I have tried in vain to make one editor who frequently publishes my comments aware that the 97% or more consensus, is really about two things-that global warming exists and that man is its major cause. And, all the while those of us who know the truth, feel like we are pushing back on a huge bolder composed of lies and deceptions, while it rolls slowly towards an abyss-because we are unable to persuade the people who count the most, about the fact that they are being conned!

The sad thing is that, under their version of the 1st amendment, scientists and educators could be accused of denying the rights of a teacher to dispense easily debunked facts, (like claiming that 2+2=5)? But if anything, all of us are being denied the simple right not to be taken in by lies, while our local newspapers refuse to edit letters filled with lies and falsehoods-something completely within their own powers and rights to do? And the real sadness is that as the climate becomes more and more unstable, and causes more and more extreme weather, deniers will continue to dispense lies and misinformation that will probably still be believed by many of us. However, as the saying goes, you can believe in your own opinions but not in your own facts!

Peter W. Johnson
Superior WI.