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Hunter Cutting, Director of Strategic Communications at Climate Nexus, talks about the upsides of the issues surrounding climate change. “One of the very interesting things I think about this whole issue is it’s actually not a scientific problem. Thanks to work of scientists we’re actually pretty clear what causes global warming,” said Cutting. “What we’re really talking about is moving our economy from a fossil fuel economy to renewable energy economy and the cost to that is marginal at best.”

From here.

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Environmental Advocacy Group Responds to Newly Ordered Climate Censorship Policy in Wisconsin

On April 7th, the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Land ordered the implementation of a policy prohibiting staff from engaging in work related to global warming or climate change.

In response, Emily Southard, Deputy Director of climate advocacy group Forecast the Facts, issued the following statement:

“First came Florida. Now, unbelievably, climate censorship has spread to Wisconsin, posing threats to the state’s public lands and showing a deeply troubling trend among conservative state governments to establish climate denial as de facto policy.”

“Ignoring climate change does nothing to remove the very real threat it poses to Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker should act immediately to oppose this irresponsible gag order.”

“We commend Secretary of State Douglas La Follette for his vote to oppose this nonsensical ban and urge his fellow board members to repeal it immediately. “

View the petition demanding Gov. Walker comment on climate censorship here.

climate_bumpersticker--ask me how

From “Evolutionists do it with increasing complexity” to “Honk if you understand punctuated equilibria,” NCSE has long been your go-to place for clever evolution bumper stickers. But now that NCSE is also defending the teaching of climate science, it’s time to update the inventory — and it could be with your brilliant idea.

The theme: climate change

The goal: to spread the word about climate change, climate change denial, and/or the need for climate science education.

(“Climate change is real,” “Teach climate change,” “My other car is a hockey stick” … yeah, we’ve already thought of those. Keep thinking!)

The rules, regulations, and links to enter are HERE.

Worst Pie Chart Ever

Here’s a great video on improving the history of graphic presentation and the effort to improve graphic visualization. It is from Better Figures, which is an actual web site with the subtitle “Constructive criticism of the graphics of climate science.” But I think the basic ideas discussed on that site and in this video are generally applicable.

(Depicted above, a candidate for the worst graphic ever.)

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From the Yale Climate Connections, a brief interview with Michael Mann.

Global warming can cause record winter storms. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s no snow job. When the oceans warm, more water evaporates into the air.

MANN: “And what that means is there’s more precipitation. Water is cycling more vigorously through the atmosphere, and that gives us more extreme weather.”

That’s Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University. He says in summer, an unusually warm ocean can strengthen storms like Hurricane Irene.. but in winter, the evaporation from a warm ocean collides with cold arctic air and turns to snow.

As seawater evaporates, it also releases additional energy into the atmosphere. This extra energy then fuels storms, making them more intense.
This past winter, a large area of the North Atlantic was much warmer than usual — which Mann says contributed to the record Nor’easters that buried parts of New England in snow.

MANN: “So climate change is actually providing more energy to intensify these nor’easters, and it’s providing more moisture so that they can convert that moisture into record snowfalls.”

2014 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean surface. So New England, get your shovels ready for more extreme snow in coming years.

Hear the Interview Here

Electric cars will benefit from rapidly dropping battery costs

It is estimated that when batteries approach $150 per KWh, the cost of all electric cars will become similar to gasoline driven cars. Since electricity itself is cheaper than gasoline (per distance driven) this would make electric cars a very good idea. Converting fossil fuel to electricity to run a vehicle is more efficient than directly running the vehicle from an internal combustion engine. A large number of electricity markets have a sufficient mix of clean(ish) energy that, combined with this efficiency, increased use of electric cars will generally keep more of the Carbon in the ground. And this doesn’t even include the enormous external costs of anthropogenic greenhouse gas pollution.

Björn Nyvkist and Måns Nilsson have published a paper in Nature Climate change documenting the precipitous drop in estimates of batteries from somewhere closet to $2000 per KWh to closer to $300 per KWh, with the expectation of reaching $150 KWh in the near future.

Here is the abstract of the study:

To properly evaluate the prospects for commercially competitive battery electric vehicles (BEV) one must have accurate information on current and predicted cost of battery packs. The literature reveals that costs are coming down, but with large uncertainties on past, current and future costs of the dominating Li-ion technology1, 2, 3. This paper presents an original systematic review, analysing over 80 different estimates reported 2007–2014 to systematically trace the costs of Li-ion battery packs for BEV manufacturers. We show that industry-wide cost estimates declined by approximately 14% annually between 2007 and 2014, from above US$1,000 per kWh to around US$410 per kWh, and that the cost of battery packs used by market-leading BEV manufacturers are even lower, at US$300 per kWh, and has declined by 8% annually. Learning rate, the cost reduction following a cumulative doubling of production, is found to be between 6 and 9%, in line with earlier studies on vehicle battery technology2. We reveal that the costs of Li-ion battery packs continue to decline and that the costs among market leaders are much lower than previously reported. This has significant implications for the assumptions used when modelling future energy and transport systems and permits an optimistic outlook for BEVs contributing to low-carbon transport.

The authors also wrote up an article for the general public on their findings, which is here.

Google Juice

I am not an expert on Search Engine Optimization but I’ve been messing around with it a bit lately and thought I’d pass on a few tips. These tips relate to both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) proper, which means helping people find your blog posts, which, in turn, means hyping up your Google Juice, as well as general social networking. Almost everything here is obvious but I see many blogs that I really like not doing at least some of them.

Social Networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Your blog should have an easily available set of social networking buttons on each blog post. Ideally these buttons should be on the view of your blog that shows the various recent posts (titles and summaries) as well on the individual blog post pages. Many blogs have buttons that link the reader to the blog author’s Twitter page or other places, but this is not what I mean. I’m talking about the twitter (or other social networking site) button that instantly generates a tweet (or other appropriate action) when pressed.

This button should not lead the reader to a place where they can sign up for the ability to share a blog post. Some blogs do that and it is counter productive. A lot of your readers will ignore this. The social networking buttons should include a lot of options because, even though most people probably use Twitter with Facebook a close second, there are still lots of people who use Stumble Upon or other sites. So when choosing what buttons to show (by adjusting your social networking plugin) be generous.

It would also be nice if your sharing buttons were clearly marked and readily available and distinct from your “follow me on X” buttons.

Some bloggers have a Twitter button that generates a tweet with an @ tag like “@wordpress.com” or something along those lines. That is pretty useless. The @ tag should be more specific to your on line presence. Nobody cares that a tweet was generated from a WordPress blog. That @ tag is to bring relevant individuals into the conversation, not to advertise a generalized blogging network. So adjust that if possible.

Depending on your blog there may be a plugin you can use (or replace) to do this.

Search Engine Optimization

Google ranks and finds sites using a number of criteria most of which are at least initially mysterious. SEO developers (those that develop plugins or strategies etc) attempt to “game” this to enhance their users’ or clients’ Google Juice. Google then adjusts. It is an arms race that you will lose if you don’t keep up. So keep up.

Also, it is probably true that faster rendering sites get higher up on Google search pages than slower rendering sites. So, make your site faster.

Themes or templates for WordPress sites that are old should probably be replaced. Newer templates or themes may be better optimized for speed.

Themes or templates can be “SEO optimized.” But if that is something that was done a couple of years ago, it is probably outdated. Make sure your theme or template is updated (usually a largely automatic process but you need to press a button).

At the moment, it seems that templates or themes that make use of “schema.org” work way better than those that don’t. Search engines use schema.org markup to get at the information on your site. Make sure your theme or template makes use of schema.org. It will say that in the description.

In short, if you have an old template or theme, replace it and make sure the new one is schema.org ready.

I assume it is also true that you should be using the most current version of WordPress or whatever other blogging software you use.

SEO and Social Networking Plugins

To get those sharing buttons, and to improve SEO, you can get various plugins. Get recently developed or updated ones, and keep them updated.

Specific SEO strategies

Pick good keywords. The first keyword you list is the keyword you think will lead people to your post. If you use a generic keyword, your post will be one of a gazillion other posts on a Google search. If you use a more specific one you may get better results. This obviously depends on what people are searching for.

Use your keyword a reasonable number of times in the post, including the title and the “slug” (the part of the URL that identified your post).

Try to write the title of your post in the form of a likely common Google Search. If I write a post on how high sea levels may rise with global warming, I might title it “How high will sea levels rise with global warming” and/or use a phrase like that in the post. The keywords might be “Sea Level Rise, Global Warming, Climate Change.”

Use headings (headers) and put the main keyword in a header tag. This may be extra work since you may have to hard code it, but it is not that difficult. Use HTML code to make an H2 level header and put the keyword in it as part of the title of that section. Many of us think of using titled subsections as a tool for long text, to help break it up, and you may be reluctant to use headers with short text. Forget that convention and use the headers even when your blog post is short.

A blog post that is under 300 words has less google juice. I can imagine why this is true, but I don’t know. But it appears to be true because all the SEO experts say it. At least for now.

Using graphics in blog posts

Graphics seem to increase Google juice. If you use graphics, there are a few guidelines that may help.

  • Retitle the graphic, if needed, so it says something that makes sense. So, change 23272w90348408.jpg to Map-of-sea-level-rise.jpg.
  • Put a phrase that uses your keyword (if appropriate) in the alt-test and description, and include a caption with that as well.
  • Enhance Discoverability

    Put links to your other posts in your posts, when appropriate.

    Use title tags properly

    Each HTML page has a “title tag” that is said to be very important for search engines. Google will create the search engine result largely from the title tag. There are SEO plugins that allow you to manipulate this data. I am somewhat agnostic about this approach as I’ve seen mixed results, but if you have an SEO plugin you should try doing what it tells you do to about post titles and descriptions.

    Don’t be an idiot about post titles

    The title of your post is probably the most important thing when it comes to SEO and in general getting someone to read it.

    The first rule is don’t be cute. Well, be cute if you want, but don’t create a title that has great literary value or that conveys some subtle bit of humor or makes a nuanced connection between two things you are writing about, etc. etc. unless the title also states what the post is about.

    In other words, the title of your post is the ONLY means to tell a potential reader what your post is about. It is NOT an IQ test or a test of popular culture knowledge or anything else.

    Let me put this yet another way. Your post title should not be a quiz that only your “smartest” or most socially aware readers, or more typically, your most telepathic readers, will understand. The title of your post should not be a challenge that only some will overcome in order to unerstand what your post is about.

    Have I put that enough ways?

    For example, this post is titled

    “Expanding Blog Readership Through SEO and Social Networking”

    If I wanted to be more literal I might have said,

    “Clickety–clack 10 SEO hacks”

    “Link or cut bait”

    “Searching For Juice”

    … or any number of titles that make a subtle, nuanced link between something you weren’t thinking of and something in my own head. Don’t do that. Google won’t figure out that your post is there, and if Google does, and puts your post on the only page in a search result that matters (page 1) readers won’t figure out what you are writing about.

    Save The Drama For Your Mama

    And by Drama I mean your inspired literary blog post title and by Mama I mean a header within your post.

    See what I did there?

    Expanding Blog Readership Through SEO and Social Networking, according to YOU

    Please make your brilliant suggestions (and corrections of what I’ve said) below!

    harry-reid-vine-mocks-republicans-shutdown

    From NPR:

    Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Democratic leader in the Senate, said he won’t seek re-election next year.

    “My friend Sen. [Mitch] McConnell, don’t be too elated. I’m going to be here for 22 months,” he said referring to the Senate majority leader from Kentucky. “And you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate.”

    The announcement, made in a video posted on YouTube, comes after Reid, a former amateur boxer, suffered serious injuries to his eye and face following an accident at his Las Vegas home Jan. 1.

    Andreas-Lubitz-germanwingsjpg

    A few links to places addressing this important question:

    Andreas Lubitz: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

    Lubitz, 28, was a German national living in Montabaur, Germany. Montabaur lies in the famous Rhineland region of Germany, about halfway between Cologne and Frankfurt. The Telegraph reports he lived there with his parents and also had an apartment in Dusseldorf.

    The FAA lists “Am Spiessweiher 8, Montabaur, Germany” as Lubitz’s address. Google Street View is not available for Lubitz’s home, but the Google Map below shows that he lived in a suburban area.

    Who is Andreas Lubitz? Everything we know so far about Germanwings co-pilot

    Full name: Andreas Guenter Lubitz.

    Who was Andreas Lubitz? Germanwings co-pilot who ‘intentionally killed’ 150 passengers in deliberate Alps crash

    German media reports he had 630 flight hours and joined budget airline Germanwings straight out of Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen in September 2013. Authorities have not confirmed if he had any experience as a professional pilot prior to that.

    Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who ‘locked out captain and crashed flight 9525 into French Alps’?

    Lubitz is that the 28-year-old was from Montabaur, a town in the district seat of the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

    The LSC club, where he was a member, posted a death notice on their website naming him.

    Andreas Lubitz a young co-pilot loved flying, no terrorist links

    Lubitz scored 100 per cent in his psychological testing to become a professional pilot, Carsten Spohr, an official with the Germanwings parent company Lufthansa said on Thursday.
    “There wasn’t the least doubt in his capability,” Spohr said at at press conference.
    Lubitz started his training in 2008, which was interrupted for several months for an unspecified reason, Spohr said.
    “I can’t say more about the reasons for his absence,” Lubitz said.

    08potato-master675

    You probably already know that Patrick Moore is a guy who was involved early on in Greenpeace, and has since used his Greenpeace connection (claiming to have been a founder, though he wasn’t) to get paid speaking gigs all around the world. He speaks out in favor of nuclear energy (much to the annoyance of Greenpeace) and he is a global warming denier.

    Anyway, here is a very funny interview with Moore that is supposed to be about GMOs but turns out to be about … well, just watch:

    Hat Tip GM Watch

    Meanwhile, don’t forget to listen to my interview with Anastasia Bodnar on GMOs.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 8.44.25 AM

    Richard Alley takes a page (unintentionally, I’m sure) from my playbook for debating creationists: You wanna tell us global warming isn’t real? Then go back to North Korea where you are obviously from, you Anti-American commie non-patriot!

    Well, he doesn’t say it exactly that way, but you can hear it for yourself. The point is, if you deny the basic physics of climate change science, you might as well tell us that our system of national defense and apple pie are all made up too!

    From Peter Sinclair’s series of elevator pitches:

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    It is almost National Point Out Dog Doo Day. The exact day depends on your local conditions. This is when the snow banks melt, and you can find dog doo left over the winter everywhere.

    These days this is a bit of an atavistic celebration, like the King Cake eaten at Mardi Gras. Nobody who gets the king in the King Cake ever actually gets to become king any more, and because of government interference in doggie deification practices there is precious little dog doo to go around anymore.

    But at Mount Everest, the shit is about to hit the fan. And by “fan” I mean “global warming.”

    The Washington Post, always on top of important news, has the story.

    For some 62 years over 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest, with many more getting part way up. Few of them, it seems, have practiced the age-old rule of hiking in the wilderness: Leave only your footprints, and poop as necessary, behind. The routes up the great mountain are littered with broken equipment, empty O2 canisters, trash, and dead bodies (people die doing this). And, of course, human excrement galore.

    As the glaciers melt due to global warming, this stuff is making an appearance. The Washington Post reports Mark Jenkins as saying, “The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are … disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps.” (See also Maxed Out on Everest.)

    Apparently the cesspool left by the Conquerors of Everest has reached the point that it is now a health problem. Wapo:

    Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.

    It is estimated that approximately 26,500 pounds of human excrement generated in the area every years, though most of that is carried by Sherpas to a disposal site, which apparently has become a point pollution source because of this. The excrement does not deteriorate very quickly, so it builds up. Yaks fall into the disposal pits now and then.

    New rules are being implemented. But the poop in the ground already is not going to go away any time soon.

    Read the whole story here.

    elephant-ent-17

    Circuses are famous for their clowns, and the captive elephants that are forced to do humiliating things. I haven’t heard any reports of the clowns being mistreated or dying unexpectedly, but we do hear this about elephants.

    This all makes me wonder why people go to circuses. I suppose it is something to do.

    Anyway, people have been complaining for some time now that circuses should not have elephants. This is, apparently, coming to fruition at least in part; Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is expected to phase out the elephants by 2018.

    Executives from Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, said the decision to end the circus’s century-old tradition of showcasing elephants was difficult and debated at length. Elephants have often been featured on Ringling’s posters over the decades. The decision is being announced Thursday.

    “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers,” said Alana Feld, the company’s executive vice president. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

    The New York Times has the details here.