Physicist Richard A. Muller was in the news last year after his Koch-funded study of global climate change concluded that it’s real, surely to the Koch brothers’ dismay. Now he’s penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he says that his ongoing research has led him to the same conclusion as 99.9% of other experts in the field—that "essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases." Muller’s research shows that the UN and the IPCC actually understate the problem. He researched the climate change causes claimed by non-scientist skeptics (urban heating biases, cherry-picking data, faking data, solar activity, and global population), and found that none of them explained climate change. What did explain it perfectly was atmospheric carbon dioxide. →
Physicist Richard A. Muller was in the news last year after his Koch-funded study of global climate change concluded that it’s real, surely to the Koch brothers’ dismay. Now he’s penned an on-ed for the New York Times in which he says that his ongoing research has led him to the same conclusion as 99.9% of other experts in the field—that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Muller’s research shows that the UN and the IPCC actually understate the problem. He researched the climate change causes claimed by non-scientist skeptics (urban heating biases, cherry-picking data, faking data, solar activity, and global population), and found that none of them explained climate change. What did explain it perfectly was atmospheric carbon dioxide. →
In the history of record keeping, so far 2012 is the hottest year in U.S. history. Spring was 5.2° warmer than the 20th century average, and fully 2° warmer than the prior record, in 1910. (That’s a huge difference. We’re not talking about tenths of a degree here.) Even more alarming is the resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 levels. At the Barrow, Alaska NOAA station, the concentration hit 400 ppm. Compare that to 278 ppm a few hundred years ago, or 336 ppm thirty years ago. That’s a 20% increase over my lifetime. Given that the atmosphere is just 0.03% CO2, and how powerful its effect is on global climate change, a 20% increase is a very big deal. It is not a coincidence that our hottest year coincides with our highest non-urban CO2 measurement. →
Could the North Carolina legislature microwave a burrito so hot that they themselves could not eat it? →
The NOAA reports that the temperatures wasn’t just record-breaking in March, but beat the prior record by a stunning 8.6°F above the average for the 20th century. In the history of U.S. weather record keeping, only one month has ever seen a larger departure from the historical average: January 2006. Every state—all fifty—had a record warm temperature in March, with 15,272 temperature records broken. In 21 cases, the nighttime high exceeded the prior record daytime high. →
Here’s something I never thought to wonder about: the average height of clouds. From March 2000–February 2010, clouds got 100–130 feet lower. There’s no long-term monitoring, so it’s not clear whether this is part of a larger trend. One theory is that this might be part of a negative feedback loop as the planet responds to global climate change, allowing the surface to release heat into space to counteract warming. →
- New York Times: Climate Scientists Hampered in Study of 2011 Extremes
“'I’ve been a meteorologist 30 years and never seen a year that comes close to matching 2011 for the number of astounding, extreme weather events,' Jeffrey Masters, a co-founder of the popular Web site Weather Underground, said last month. 'Looking back in the historical record, which goes back to the late 1800s, I can’t find anything that compares, either.'”
- Brent Simmons: ‘Gamification’ sucks
Yes, yes it does.
- Wikipedia: J. W. Westcott II
This little boat, sailing out of Detroit, is the world's only post office boat that delivers mail to other ships under sail. It's got its own ZIP code: 48222. There can't be very many post offices that actually come to you.
- BBC News: CO2 climate sensitivity ‘overestimated’
Of all that is very clearly known about global climate change, the one connection that is not well understood is the quantity of climate forcing that results from each unit of CO2. That is, exactly how much additional heat can the atmosphere store for each each ton of CO2 that is added to it? One new study proposes that the existing model might be too pessimistic, basing that on the authors' theory that the last ice age wasn't as cold as has been believed. Their theorized rate of increase is still globally catastrophic, but comparatively speaking, it would be good news. The team's paper is published in Science magazine.
- Wikipedia: Franksgiving
In 1939, President Roosevelt made the annual declaration of a day of Thanksgiving—as had been done such President Washington—but selected the third Thursday in November, rather than the traditional last Thursday. That was at the request of retailers, who didn't want to violate the taboo of starting Christmas sales before Thanksgiving, but were worried that the fourth Thursday would fall too late in the year—November 30—to give them enough sales time. The moved date split the country, both along partisan lines and along state lines. Many states declared Thanksgiving holidays on the third Thursday, some on the fourth. This was repeated in 1940 and 1941, but it was settled by Congress, who officially designed the annual holiday as being the fourth Thursday, as of 1942.
- American Radio Relay League: US Amateurs Now 700,000 Strong!
There are more ham radio operators in the U.S. than ever before. Over 700,000 now. When I got licensed, in the early nineties, there were just under 500,000 licensed operators. I was one of the first people to get a codeless license, meaning that I didn't need to learn CW (aka Morse code); if that new class of license hadn't been established, I couldn't have passed the test. These days, I don't think CW is required for any of the three license classes—Technician, General, and Amateur Extra—which has surely helped this surge in licensing. (Fun fact: Long-time ARRL president Harry Dannals, aka W2HD, is a Charlottesville resident.)
- Big Think: What’s the Plural of Texas?
When Texas joined the union, it was with the condition that they have the ability to form four additional states from their land, allowing a total of five Texases. That's a right that they've never given up, which has resulted in occasional movements in support of Texas divisionism.
- Kevin Drum: Climate Skeptics Take Another Hit
Physicist, climate change doubter, and climate skeptic poster child Richard Muller thinks Al Gore's exaggerating and doubts the accuracy the hockey stick graph. Funded by the Koch Foundation, Muller started the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to do his own climate research. BEST published its first paper this week and concluded that Earth is warming very rapidly, that historic temperature data reconstructions are accurate, that global temperature stations are highly reliable, and that the urban heat island effect is irrelevant. Said Muller: "Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK." Well, that's awkward. This is how science works.
- Reuters: More Americans believe world is warming
A poll conducted by Reuters has found that 83% of Americans believe in global climate change, compared to 75% last year. That includes 72% of Republicans and 92% of Democrats. It's the #1 concern of 15% of people. 27% believe that humans have nothing to do with it, while 71% figure it's caused at least in part by us. That dwindling percentage of people who don't believe in climate change is more hardened in their position than ever, with 53% of them being certain that there's no such thing as climate change. Let's see how that works out for them.
- Planet Money: What If We Paid Off The Debt?
Back in the good old days—before President George W. Bush, before fighting two wars, before September 11th, before a huge tax cut paid for with debt—it looked very much like the entire debt would be paid off by 2012. In producing the final Economic Report of the President, a researcher looked into what would happen when that happened. As it turned out, it would be terrible. Treasury bonds make the investment world go 'round. No debt, no t-bonds. The conclusion of the never-published report was that it was important to maintain some debt in order to maintain treasury bonds.
- The New York World: Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line
A Brooklyn bus—part of the city's public bus line—is franchised to a private company, though generally indistinguishable from any other city bus, intended to serve the Hasidic community in Williamsburg and Borough Park. It's the bus line's rule that women have to sit in the back of the bus. You can see how this story progresses. The issue of religious freedom vs. civil rights vs. free enterprise isn't wholly open-and-shut but, as a rule, anybody making an argument that a certain class of people should have to sit in the back of the bus automatically loses the debate.
- American Geophysical Union: Words matter
This vocabulary guide accompanies an article ("Communicating the Science of Climate Change") in the October issue of Physics Today, explaining to research scientists that some of the words that they use to communicate among themselves simply confuse the public. "Manipulation" of data means simply to process it, but the public thinks it means to tamper with it. A "scheme" is just a plan, but that's perceived as being illicit. A "theory" is the basic unit of scientific knowledge, but people think a theory is different from a fact. These are important, as has been observed with natural selection ("evolution is just a theory!") and global climate change ("those hacked e-mails said that were manipulating the data!").