“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Hype about Mercury in the oceans

wildfire“A new paper by a group that includes researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Wright State University, Observatoire Midi-Pyréneés in France, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research appears in this week’s edition of the journal Nature and provides the first direct calculation of mercury in the global ocean from pollution based on data obtained from 12 sampling cruises over the past 8 years. The work, which was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European Research Council and led by WHOI marine chemist Carl Lamborg, also provides a look at the global distribution of mercury in the marine environment,” says the press release.

What made headlines in the press is this: “Analysis of their results showed rough agreement with the models used previously—that the ocean contains about 60,000 to 80,000 tons of pollution mercury. In addition, they found that ocean waters shallower than about 100 m (300 feet) have tripled in mercury concentration since the Industrial Revolution…..” “Tripled” is what the press picked up, but most sources did not print the rest of the sentence: …” and that the ocean as a whole has shown an increase of roughly 10 percent over pre-industrial mercury levels.”

The Gases of Life are NOT Pollutants

earth-from-spaceOur atmosphere contains the four gases of life – nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Nitrogen is the most abundant gas-of-life in the atmosphere (78%). It is an essential building block of amino acids present in all proteins. It is a very stable unreactive gas, but micro-organisms in the soil and some plants are able to extract nitrogen from the atmosphere, making it available to growing plants. Lightning also manages to oxidise some atmospheric nitrogen.

Oxygen is the second most abundant gas-of-life in the atmosphere (21%). Every animal absorbs oxygen with every breath, using it to fuel bodily digestion of the foods they eat. This process builds bodies and provides the energy of muscles. In the great oxygen cycle, plants extract oxygen from carbon dioxide and exhale it to the atmosphere for animals to breathe.

RC: 20 million Russian black holes needed for methane emergency

One month ago, a very large crater was found on Yamal Peninsula in Siberia.

Where did the black hole come from? What was the cause? These questions were mysterious for us but now it seems that experts have reasons to say that there's lots of methane in the hole and the hole was a result of a methane bubble under the ground that found its way to the surface. Cool.

We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh

coolingWHAT if David Archibald’s book The Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short turns out to be right? What if the past 50 years of peace, cheap energy, abundant food, global economic growth and population explosion have been due to a temporary climate phenomenon?

What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?

In a letter to the editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, IG Usoskin et al produced the “first fully ­adjustment-free physical reconstruction of solar activity”. They found that during the past 3000 years the modern grand maxima, which occurred between 1959 and 2009, was a rare event both in magnitude and duration. This research adds to growing evidence that climate change is determined by the sun, not humans.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe Relies on Facts, Not Speculation, in Wolverine Endangerment Listing

wolverineIn what one person is calling a "travesty of science," Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to add the wolverine to the U.S. Endangered Species List based on hysterics and ambiguous computer models, instead relying on facts, evidence, and observable science. From the AP:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in an interview with The Associated Press that predictions about climate change's localized impacts remain ambiguous.

Rejecting the conclusions of most outside experts and some of the agency's own scientists, Ashe said the uncertainty made it impossible to determine whether less snow cover would put wolverines in danger of extinction in coming decades.

Most Americans Don’t Believe Climate ‘Consensus’, New Survey

Is Obama sweating the new poll? Poll, what poll?Is Obama sweating the new poll? Poll, what poll?Despite the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and caused by human activity, a new survey conducted for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demonstrates that many Americans remain uncertain about the impact of climate change and the need for government action to address it. Only 41 percent of Americans believe that ‘most scientists agree that climate change is happening now caused mainly by human activities.’ --James P. O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 August 2014

A year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama sought to mobilize the nation behind a grand plan: fight climate change by slashing carbon pollution at home, while prodding other countries to follow. A key part of that strategy was for the United States to stop using public money to finance the construction of most coal-fired power plants abroad, seen as one of the main causes of rising pollution from heat-trapping gases. But a year later, momentum has stalled on the Obama administration’s plan for a global “domino effect” that would choke off financing for coal projects from public lending institutions around the world. --Anna Yukhananov and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, 12 August 2014

Real Nobel Laureate Takes Pity on Fake Nobel Laureate

krugmanKrugmanQuestion: What do the ACLU, the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom, the American Society of News Editors, the Association of American Publishers, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (The Village Voice et al), NBC Universal, Bloomberg News, the publishers of USA Today, Time, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic and The Bergen County Record have in common?

Answer: They (and many others) all recognize that serial litigant Michael E Mann is a menace to free speech. You can read their intervention in Mann's defamation suit against me here.

In 2012, Mann, the inventor of the global-warming "hockey stick", decided to sue me, National Review, Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for calling his stick "fraudulent" and deriding his "exoneration" by the same Penn State administration that covered up for Jerry Sandusky. So here we all are two years later leisurely circling the drain of DC justice. Yesterday was the last day for submission of briefs on the matter to the DC Court of Appeals. (I'm not part of the appeal, as I decided six months ago to take Doctor Fraudpants at his word and give him his day in court, the sooner the better.)

GAO: EPA Used 20-Year-Old Jobs Data To Justify Regulations

GinaMcCarthyHow old is too old for employment data? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency has been using decades old economic data to analyze regulations, according to a government watchdog report.

The Government Accountability Office reported the EPA “estimated effects of its regulations on employment, in part, using a study that… was based on data that were more than 20 years old and may not have represented the regulated entities addressed” in its regulatory impact analyses (RIAs).

EPA officials told the GAO that the 20-year-old data “represented the best reasonably obtainable data” when they were analyzing regulations, and that “they are exploring new approaches for analyzing these effects but were uncertain about when such results would be available.”

Wolverines won’t be listed under ESA

wolverineThose sneaky little devils are pernicious and plentiful. We're talking about wildlife advocates, right? Right. From Spokesman-Review:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said predictions about climate change’s localized impacts remain “ambiguous.” Rejecting the conclusions of the agency’s own scientists, Ashe said that made it impossible to determine whether less snow cover would put wolverines in danger of extinction in coming decades.

The decision carries potential ramifications for other species affected by climate change — from Alaska’s bearded seals and the Pacific walrus to dozens of species of corals — as scientists and regulators grapple with limits on computer climate models.

Think Progress Uses Robin Williams’ Death to Make a Point About…Global Warming

williamsLike they do.

Robin Williams, who died Monday of an apparent suicide, was a brilliant comedian who had a progressive bent.

He was not known for being an activist environmentalist the way some in Hollywood are — but he appeared in a lot of movies with ecological themes, including “Happy Feet” 1 and 2 and “FernGully: The Last Rainforest.”

Williams took global warming seriously in the way only a great comic can. Back in 2002, he did this riff:

If it's wet, EPA wants to regulate it

streamFew outrages perpetrated by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency can match its proposed rule titled “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act.” It would remove “navigable” from American water law and take federal command of all “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS.

It redefines “waters” as nearly everything that could get wet, including most of the land in America.

Under WOTUS, every seasonal stream bed, puddle and ditch in the nation would be ruled by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers’ armed enforcers, bypassing Congress and sidestepping the U.S. Supreme Court in the process. Congress is helpless to stop it — EPA-loving Democrats have a death grip on Senate bills and there aren’t the votes to override Obama’s certain veto. The Supreme Court has twice struck down major pieces of the proposed rule, which the EPA blithely ignored and merely changed the words, hired scientific shills to patch over the flaws, and created this new battering ram to shatter the gates that guard America’s property rights.

New paper finds multiple solar amplification mechanisms which modulate winter surface temperatures

sun-surfaceA paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres finds "significant differences in the temperature patterns" of the Northern Hemisphere winter dependent upon the "four [phases of the solar cycle], which indicates a solar cycle modulation of winter surface temperatures." Thus, the paper describes 4 potential solar amplification mechanisms in relation to 4 phases of each solar cycle, and possibly a fifth related to solar modulation of the North Atlantic Oscillation [NAO] as has been found by prior papers. According to the authors,

"Several recent studies have found variability in the Northern Hemisphere winter climate related to different parameters of solar activity. While these results consistently indicate some kind of solar modulation of tropospheric and stratospheric circulation and surface temperature, opinions on the exact mechanism and the solar driver differ. Proposed drivers include, e.g., total solar irradiance (TSI), solar UV radiation, galactic cosmic rays and magnetospheric energetic particles. 

Six Reasons Why Climate Science Should Definitely Be On the School Curriculum

classroomThe head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gina McCarthy has said in an interview that she believes "climate science" ought to be included in the school curriculum.

"Very much so," she says. "I think part of the challenge of explaining climate change is that it requires a level of science and a level of forward thinking and you've got to teach that to kids.

"People didn't have a sense of how dramatic climate change really is, and what it means for all of us. So that's been a challenge. But what's great about renewables is that when you put a solar panel on the roof of a school, you change the entire dynamic of education for the students. It's hands-on."

Some cynics may accuse the woman of talking gibberish.

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