Monday, January 22, 2018

Pruitt - Dr. Alley Explains Role of CO2 in Atmosphere's Evolution.

Based on the most up to date understanding, Richard Alley explains the fascinating interplay between geologic and chemical forces and how that directly influences our atmosphere's greenhouse properties and thus controls what will thrive in Earth's biosphere.

There are so many folds within folds of complexity that a talk or two doesn't do the topic justice, so I'm going to continue focusing on Deep-time and the evolution of Earth's atmosphere.  Here I present an excellent talk by Professor Alley, who earned his PhD in 1987.  Since then he’s established himself as a giant in the field of ice core studies and Paleoclimatology, having written over 240 refereed scientific publications, along with countless articles, and by now probably hundreds of engaging talks sharing his ever growing understanding with the lay public.  

This one was given at the National Academy of Sciences 152nd Annual Meeting and Symposium—Earths, Moons, Mars & Stars.  Below the fold I include notes and post many of his slides to help you fully appreciate the Professor's story.

National Academy of Science's member Richard Alley presents 
On 4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History: The Role of CO2 
Published on Jun 1, 2015

Professor Richard Alley:
“You will meet people who say, ‘we are just telling stories,’ and no we aren’t.  
We actually will generate hypotheses, that lead to new measurements, 
that lead to new samples, that are taken specifically for hypothesis testing.”    

 Dr. Alley presents the scientific process in action, 
developing an internally consistent understanding:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Is Faith-based Thinking: God or EGO?

I've reached out to some internet acquaintances, some scientists and communicators, telling them about this new blogging effort, trying to get a little feedback.  Nothing much by way of response, these are busy people with bigger concerns filling their days, plus they come from a more establishment background.  And me, what am I, a terrified spectator, low on anyone's priority list.  Plus most simply don't understand what I'm trying do, which I shouldn't be surprised at.  In many ways they can't understand me any better than I can understand them.  Still, I try, so along with a couple other posts, I shared my list of 14 Observations regarding communication failures

One response I did receive is worth considering in more detail:
"Your section 12 Faith-Based Thinking makes absolutely no sense to me."
On reread the text it seemed straightforward enough, so I figured the main problem was with my convoluted title and I made it more concise; 

12)  Faith-based Thinking - God or EGO?

Possessing the hubris to fancy that we petty, jealous, fearful, prideful humans can access and understand the real God of Light and Time, Life and Love, leads to a profound disconnect from our planet’s physical reality, and an immoral absolutism.  

It's one thing to believe in an unknowable god, quite another to mistake one’s own hyper-inflated EGO for God. 

Unhinged from reality is not too harsh a descriptive.

I shared my change and added some explanation.

The right-wing and evangelical faithful tell us to our faces that they are in direct communication with God Almighty of Time and Light, Creation and Life.  They tell us they are doing God's duty.  For instance, it's God demanding that Government interfer with a woman's right to self-determination and to self-defense when it comes to having a child, or not - though it matters not one bit to the State what any woman does with herself.  

It's God telling people that Evolution is Satan's plan and that liberals are enemies who are going to hell.  They really and truly believe and broadcast it.  It's God telling them scientists are liars.

That is something Children of the Intellectual Enlightenment really ought to start facing up front - it demands a new sort of language and questions and open rejection of such nonsense.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pruitt - Explaining the science, Prof. Summerhayes.

Nothing to add.  I introduce my next expert witness. Dr. Summerhayes takes us on a tour of climate science history and explains how scientists figured out, what they figured out, and why it matters.  

Colin Summerhayes: Earth's Climate Evolution - A Geological Perspective - Earth's Climate Evolution rocks and ice as tape recorders of climate change.

You will hear this phrase used, “The climate is always changing,” - geologists particularly in the all oil industry I find are very fond of trotting out this statement.  The climates always changing as if that means that we don't have to worry about the climate changes that are taking place now, or may take place tomorrow.  ‘Ah, because the climate is always changing.’ 

To me that is what I call a mindless mantra it's a mindless measure unless you start thinking and you engage your brains and you start wondering yeah but what made the climate change, how it did, when it did.  So that's what we have to do. We have to figure out going back in the geological record what made the climate change the way it did when it did.  That’s what I’m going to talk about. (June 3, 2015)

Followed by an outline with time signature:

Grantham Imperial  |  Published on Jun 16, 2015

A Grantham Seminar by Dr Colin Summerhayes, University of Cambridge. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pruitt - life and mineral co-evolution made our atmosphere, Dr. Hazen

I mentioned this talk at the end of my previous post and have decided to share the entire talk followed by notes, since (besides being fascinating) it provides more depth to our understanding of Earth's evolution - a necessary ingredient for appreciating today's geophysical processes, and their transformation over time.  Here we look at the intimate relationship between life and mineral and geological evolution.  It provides an essential prerequisite for a clear understanding of our atmosphere and the Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine that sustains our lives.  
Dr. Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory
Published on Jul 29, 2014 - CarnegieInstitution - 57:29 minutes 
The story of Earth is a 4.5-billion-year saga of dramatic transformations, driven by physical, chemical, and—based on a fascinating growing body of evidence—biological processes. The co-evolution of life and rocks, the new paradigm that frames this lecture, unfolds in an irreversible sequence of evolutionary stages. Each stage re-sculpted our planet's surface, each introduced new planetary processes and phenomena, and each inexorably paved the way for the next. This grand and intertwined tale of Earth's living and non-living spheres is only now coming into focus.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pruitt about our atmosphere. In the beginning.

At the root of Republican (and Pruitt’s) inability to understand our global climate engine and what we are doing to it, is their shallow perception of our planet.  To them our “environment” and “biosphere” are abstract concepts with the depth of a post card to their minds.

It requires a serious understanding of and appreciation for these past four and half billion years of dynamic evolution unfolding one day after another before you can hope to understand what’s happening to our atmosphere and what it promises for our future.

Here we consider very deep-time, the first four billion years of Earth’s evolution.  Earth, birth of the global ocean, fundamental geo-physical mechanisms falling into place, such as the geomagnetic field, plate tectonics, continent formations, dim sun, near moon, massive global tides, the dance between mineral evolution and primitive life, the dance between life and our evolving atmosphere.  

These are prerequisites for understanding our global heat and moisture distribution engine. 

I start with a short video that helps put the notion of deep time into perspective.  Then a lucid introductory lecture from an excellent speaker, Professor Julie Ferguson, discussing our atmosphere’s evolving composition.

This is followed by Co-evolution of Minerals and Life | Dr Robert Hazen.  Along with some further thoughts and links to many more relevant resources written by experts and other authoritative science communicators.

4.6 Billion Years in the making. Our wonderful world


Published on Apr 3, 2014 - University of California at Irvine

ESS 5. Lec 01. The Atmosphere: Composition and Evolution of the Atmosphere
Professor Julie Ferguson, Ph.D.  -  Earth System Science

Schooling Pruitt's Red Team about our planet and its climate engine

I wrote the following column mid December for the Four Corners Free Press out of Cortez, Colorado.  Since then it seems that the GOP doesn’t think much of Pruitt’s Red team Blue team idea and his challenge appears dead.  Still as I explained at Confronting Science Contrarians I believe Pruitt’s challenge is worth exploring, if only in outline.  Beginning with an observation and a pointed question:
Pruitt, questioning the unquestionable is fine. 
Now, will you, can you, pay attention to the answers you receive? 

Science’s Blue team educates Pruitt’s GOP Red team

A rough outline for exploring the learning opportunities Pruitt's Red Team Blue Team challenge offers for exposing GOP's intellectual dishonesty.

The following column was inspired by a lecture that Kevin Trenberth  gave at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado on November 9th, 2017.  Pruitt's "challenge" happened to jump into the headlines giving this story the hook that had been alluding me for weeks.  Worth noting is that most of what I write here at CSC is intended for readers up to speed on the science and the public dialogue - these columns for the FCFP force me to write for an audience preoccupied with other concerns, which produces a different sort of piece.

January 2018 - Four Corners Free Press, Cortez, Colorado

Early in December U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told lawmakers he intended to organize a “Red team v Blue team” exercise to debate climate change science.

Pruitt is being willfully blind to the fact that the scientific aspects of global warming have already been thoroughly debated by experts. It’s expected that Pruitt will orchestrate a lawyerly winner-take-all debate. One that’s based on rhetorical trickery and a ruthless disregard for facts.

It’s a shame, since we Americans needs a constructive educational dialogue. A debate where honestly representing your opponent’s arguments and data is as important as honestly representing your own data. One where objective learning is the goal, and where truth matters.

Speaking of honestly representing the science, November 9th Dr. Kevin Trenberth (the distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and a lead author for IPCC’s Scientific Assessment in 1995, 2001, and 2007, a giant in the field of climate assessment), gave a talk at the Fort Lewis College Climate Symposium explaining what scientists have learned about our planet. It sounded to me like a potential Blue team opening statement.

Since, today climate scientists and the science itself is under attack like never before it’s critical for more citizens to become aware and engaged. That’s why I want to share what Trenberth explained to us, along with some additional science. Information that makes clear what an internally consistent understanding scientists have achieved.

Trenberth underscored that pretty much all scientists agree. As for the few outliers, they are driven by other causes, such as religious and political inclinations. He explained that: “… as a whole the data are of mixed quality and length. If you were to look at one little piece of it you might be able to be skeptical that climate change is happening, but when you put it all together there's no doubt whatsoever that this is happening.”

Monday, January 1, 2018

Climate Models - Pruitt look at Red team deceptions

Republicans never acknowledge that climate models are among the most formidable and exacting challenges scientists undertake.  Then to make matters worse Republicans are consistently misrepresenting not only how climate models are used, but also doing their best to characterize them as failures, when they most certainly are not failures!

For the details on the General Circulation Model success story I’m going to hand it over to Coby Beck with the introduction to his November 20, 2006 Grist article.  After that I list significant models that have been correct.  Which is followed by links to and exerts from various informative articles.

Factcheck: Climate models have not ‘exaggerated’ global warming
Zeke Hausfather  September 21, 2017
Climate models are accurately predicting ocean and global warming
John Abraham, July 27, 2016
Climate models are even more accurate than you thought
Dana Nuccitelli, July 31,2015
The model scientist who fixed the greenhouse effect
Andy Extance - November 23, 2013
Fighting for useful climate models
Andy Extance - November 30, 2013
Why trust climate models?   It’s a matter of simple science
Scott K. Johnson - Sept 5 2013

‘Climate models are unproven’  –  Actually, GCM’s have many confirmed successes under their belts
By Coby Beck on Nov 20, 2006

In 1988, James Hansen of NASA GISS fame predicted [PDF] that temperature would climb over the next 12 years, with a possible brief episode of cooling in the event of a large volcanic eruption. He made this prediction in a landmark paper and before a Senate hearing, which marked the official “coming out” to the general public of anthropogenic global warming. 

Twelve years later, he was proven remarkably correct, requiring adjustment only for the timing difference between the simulated future volcanic eruption and the actual eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

CO2 Science - Pruitt, proof is in the pudding! Impossible Modern Marvels

After explaining that the USAF scientists and technicians who established our "CO2 science" possessed impeccable credentials, we should also point out that if those scientists had been wrong, they would have been exposed in short order.  

Why you ask?  Because of the increasing variety of modern marvels that would have been impossible had those studies not produced exquisitely accurate facts and figures.

The following was written to supplement the previous review of USA atmospheric research and to explain why a layperson can feel very comfortable trusting, heck believing, scientists, their atmospheric studies, and overall understanding.   

This post is an interesting sort of one way collaborative effort.  You see, over the years I've communicated with a number of scientists and grads.  Asking straight forward questions and often receiving informative replies.  I try not to overdo my welcome, after all these are very busy professionals with more important things to do. Still, for this post I sent a grand shout out to a number of my correspondence pals and received more responses than I expected including some informative surprises for me. I have taken great liberty slicing and dicing their contributions. Rewriting some, leaving other quotes untouched and giving all of it some order.

I mention this because I want to be clear the following List of "  CO2 science dependent" modern marvels is not my own cleverness and I send a big Thank You! out to my informed anonymous heroes!  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 since preindustrial times is a given. Appreciate that the radiative physics of greenhouse gases are very well-understood.

Consider, heat seeking missiles flying through different altitudes searching for a heat source who's signature is changing with altitude.  In order to program the computer to track and home in on a jet's exhaust, the programmer must know how to accurately compensate for the changing signature.  It requires a complete knowledge of the radiative properties of all the gases and how they change throughout the atmosphere, or all that hardware is for naught.

{Incidentally, there is not one contrarian "theory" or challenge to climate science or the geophysics that hasn't been looked at by informed individuals.  You'll find that contrarian errors, omissions, and falsifications have been clearly explained.  

Don't believe me, look at this outline for yourself: 

CO2 Science - Blue team: "Pruitt, it's certain as certain gets! It's the physics! Don't you know???

Considering that ridicule is a mainstay of the Republican approach to denying climate science, and since CO2 understanding has come under the most unhinged attacks that are based on misrepresenting what scientists have learned, along with paranoia laced arguments from incredulity, it's important to clearly explain where our understanding comes from.

That's why after a review of climate science historyI believe the first points the Blue Team should make clear is that "Atmospheric CO2 Science" is as certain as certain gets !

To accomplish that, explain where our greenhouse gas understanding comes from.  Namely intensive atmospheric studies made by no nonsense Air Force atmospheric scientists.  

Nature doesn't play tricks like people do, through careful study scientists have revealed one natural secret after another.  Why in the world would atmospheric radiative transfer physics be any different?  On top of all that, many nations studied greenhouse gases independently (we are talking about military secrets back then!) and all those experts came up with the same answers.

In this exercise I've combed through the Air Force Cambridge Research Lab's official history, and pulled out highlights of their atmospheric research.  It's all frustratingly vague, no hyperlinks here, still it is the official USAF record and offers some tantalizing hints to early Air Force Atmospheric Studies.  

Keep in mind this research took a century's worth of increasing fundamental understanding and evolved it into a thorough understanding of our atmosphere, its components and their physical properties and behavior within our atmosphere's real environment.  

OUTLINE - Science’s Blue team educates Pruitt’s Red team

An outline for exploring the learning opportunities Pruitt's Red Team Blue Team challenge offers for exposing GOP's intellectual dishonesty.  With time I hope to add posts and links to sources explaining all of the listed items.

"Blue team v Pruitt"

 Pruitt, questioning the unquestionable is fine. 

 Now, will you pay attention to the answers you receive? 

Science’s Blue team educates 
Pruitt’s GOP Red team  -  A Rough Outline.

I appreciate this is only an amateur’s exercise, I dare you to do better.  
Heck, I implore you to do better.  Please.

It seems Pruitt’s grand dream of a Red Team Blue Team “Exercise” is little more than a fading memory, a dead horse even.  One that Republicans and Democrats alike just as soon forget about.

I, on the other hand, believe this is one dead horse that deserves some serious beating.  Because this beating promises to produce a few lessons about fairly and squarely confronting the climate science lies that Pruitt and his Republican Red Team fraudsters have bet our house, farm and futures on.

The following is a rough outline for a rational level playing field constructive debate where the Blue Team has a chance to describe the scientific fundamentals, before going on to examine the claims, tactics and reasoning behind the Republican Red team's dogmatic rejection of serious climate science.

I appreciate that my list can certainly be improved on and I’ll admit I’m not equipped to truly flesh it out, though I’ll give it a start as time permits.  Doing this project justice would require some savvy engaged climate science communicators with more time, discipline, depth of understanding, not to mention opportunities.  

I hope this makes sense to a few and that it might serve to inspire some dynamic minds with the ability to do more.  

Fundamental Climate Science Understanding

2018, now what? Considering the Problem in 14 VERSES.

(first few paragraphs of introduction, moved to the end my list.)      I want to start the year with this summary of what I've learned from nearly fifty years of paying attention to the unfolding public climate science dialogue, in 14 verses.  I share this list because I believe it may help some sort out their own experiences and evolving understanding about what’s actually being argued by Republican climate science ‘skeptics’ such as Pruitt's supposed Red team.  Well okay, I’m also hoping to connect with a few like minded individuals, who could help improve it.

I reject and confront the GOP’s assumption that deliberate malicious lying is an appropriate political strategy when it comes to something as serious and consequential as understanding Anthropogenic Global Warming.

14 observations on our dysfunctional public dialogue.

1)  Uncertainties vs. known Physical Certainties

It is a disservice to constantly allow trivial uncertainties to become the focal point of the public discussion.

In real life when we get mired or overwhelmed by increasingly complex situations, we stop, back off a little, get reoriented with the big picture, reacquaint ourselves with what we do know for certain, then move forward again.  

I’m not saying ignore uncertainties!  I’m saying keep reminding us of the overriding fundamental certainties!  Thus putting contrarian trivial pursuits into real world perspective.

2)  Map vs. Territory Problem

Scientists are Cartographers mapping out the geophysical realities of our planet, the Territory if you will.  They do the best they can with the data they have available.

Too often we get trapped into assuming that until our scientists can define all aspects with statistical certainty, we should assume it's okay to ignore.  
That's getting lost on the Map and forgetting we exist within the Territory.  

3)  Sloppy usage of “Natural Variability”