Daily Archives: February 6, 2013

Republicans: US Government will wait 2 more years to address climate change

… at any serious level, and then, only if enough Republicans get thrown out of the House to allow committee work and legislation to happen. From The Hill:

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans have rebuffed Democrats’ bid to require the high-profile panel to hold hearings on links between climate change, extreme weather and threats to coastal areas.

On Wednesday the Committee, along party lines, voted down Democratic amendments to its formal oversight plan for the 113th Congress.

One defeated amendment, from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), would have required hearings on the role of climate change in drought, heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields and other effects.

A second defeated amendment, by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), called for hearings on climate-related coastal threats including sea-level rise, more frequent and intense storms, and ocean acidification.

More votes – with a similar outcome – are expected when the meeting to approve the oversight plan resumes next week.

Waxman is offering a third amendment calling for a hearing on recent reports that warn, “the window for action to prevent irreversible harm from climate change is closing rapidly.”

In case you are reading this 40 years ago hence from a refugee camp somewhere inland from the flooded East Coast urban zone, these are the people who’s children you should find in order to demand your explanation:

Fred Upton (MI)- Chairman
Ralph Hall (TX)
Joe Barton (TX) – Chairman Emeritus
Ed Whitfield (KY)
John Shimkus (IL)
Joseph R. Pitts (PA)
Greg Walden (OR)
Lee Terry (NE)
Mike Rogers (MI)
Tim Murphy (PA)
Michael C. Burgess (TX)
Marsha Blackburn (TN)
Phil Gingrey (GA)
Steve Scalise (LA)
Bob Latta (OH)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
Gregg Harper (MS)
Leonard Lance (NJ)
Bill Cassidy (LA)
Brett Guthrie (KY)
Pete Olson (TX)
David McKinley (WV)
Cory Gardner (CO)
Mike Pompeo (KS)
Adam Kinzinger (IL)
Morgan Griffith (VA)
Gus Bilirakis (FL)
Bill Johnson (OH)
Billy Long (MO)
Renee Ellmers (NC)

Comet ISON caught on video!

Comet ISON appears to be a new comet. This bundle of icy dirty icy stuff was tugged by subtle gravitational forces out of the Ort Cloud, which is really really far away, and is now falling towards the sun. It will pass within view of us Earthlings later this year on its way towards the sun, and again, after it has swung around the sun, possibly displaying a spectacular tail, as new comets seem to do. Or, it could become vaporized during its first orbit. No one knows yet. Since ISON’s maximum visibility will be around Christmas, there will be all sorts of annoying references to Bible stories, and it is even possible that crazy cults will emerge and there will be people hiding in caves where they will do awful things to themselves in the belief that they can hitch a ride on the comet and get out of here. Let us hope not.

Anyway, NASA’s Deep Impact spaceship has videoed the comet as it moves along against a backdrop of stars and such. The video looks to me like the opening sequence in a hokey 1950s Science Fiction film, where this is the meteor carrying The Blob or something about to crash into the wilderness a few miles outside of town but dangerously close to Lover Lookout where it will be discovered by the captain of the football team and his lovely date who is also the daughter of the town sheriff. See if you agree:

You can read the background for this video and other stuff about ISON here, in the NASA press release.

Annual Amount of Carbon Released Into Atmosphere

Here are two graphs that show the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, mainly as CO2 and mainly form the burning of fossil fuels, per year, from various sources for a long span of time. Both graphs are based on the same data set. the first graph was created by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center and shows the breakdown between different sources of carbon. The second graph, which I made, simply shows the total, and over a shorter time span to make it easier to use for other purposes.



Minnesota Moose

Minnesota has two populations of moose, one in the northwestern part of the state, one in the northeastern part of the state. Both are in decline. The decline seems to be mainly due to disease, which in turn, seems to be exacerbated by the occurrence of shorter, warmer winters and longer summers.

Today, the Minnesota DNR is announcing an indefinite halt to the annual moose hunt, because the latest surveys show that the population is in very serious decline. From a brief preliminary report in the Star Tribune:

Based on the aerial survey conducted in January, the new population estimate is 2,760 animals, down from 4,230 in 2012. The population estimate was as high as 8,840 as recently as 2006. At the current rate of decline, it could be gone from the state in 20 years, wildlife officials say.

I find it somewhat annoying that the state Department of Natural Resources still refuses to make the direct link between climate change and moose decline. They seem to be still under the thumb of erstwhile Republican administrations and couch their language accordingly. They need to stop doing that.

This is a developing story and I’ll have more on it in the future. In the mean time, here is an extended excerpt from a post I wrote a while back on the moose: Continue reading Minnesota Moose

How much can the sea level go up with global warming and how fast will it happen?

According to some estimates, if sea levels rose one meter, Boston would lose 3% of it’s land surface, Washington DC a mere 1%. Tampa and Miami would lose 18% and 15% respectively. New Orleans would lose 91%.

A six meter rise would result in much larger losses. Norfolk, Virginia and Miami Florida would be essentially gone.

These estimates use the assumption that the sea level rises in those areas vertically, and the corresponding topographical level in the coastal city becomes the shoreline. They don’t account for the fact that the ocean does not work that way. (see Sea Level Rise…Extreme History, Uncertain Future.)The shore of the ocean normally consists of a relatively flat zone covered by sea (perhaps exposed ~2 times a day at low tide), a steeper zone where the sea intercepts the land (and generally goes up and down a certain amount with the tides) which was carved out by erosion, then inland, whatever topography would have been present prior to the incursion of the sea. The original shorline first contacted by the sea is gone, and the strandline has moved, or transgressed (that’s the term we use), some distance across the landscape. In a place like Miami, the sea may transgress many miles across relatively easily eroded sediment. In a place like Boston, filled land (which makes up a huge amount of that city’s land surface) might be easily eroded away, glacial sediments that make up much of the city’s substrate would erode fairly quickly. Rock conglomerates that make up much of the southern part of the city would erode slowly while weathered argilite underneath Cambridge would be eroded away quickly. The North Shore communities, sitting on hard rhyolite, would make nice islands for a long time. In other words, it would be complicated. Continue reading How much can the sea level go up with global warming and how fast will it happen?

Do crosswalk buttons really do anything? And other pseudoscientific matters

This is important stuff. Along the lines of whether or not Bigfoot is real. So let’s talk about it for a moment.

The crosswalk buttons in my neighborhood work. At least some of them. Last summer and the summer before, Huxley and I would walk around quite a bit, crossing through intersections that at other times I would drive through, and from the latter vantage (driving) I’d observe people at intersections trying to get a walk light. Between our pressing of the buttons, and my observations of others, I’m pretty sure that the lights change to “walk” during the traffic signal cycle far more often, possibly in some cases only, when someone has pressed the button. Continue reading Do crosswalk buttons really do anything? And other pseudoscientific matters