EPA posts greenhouse gas reporting requirements

June 29, 2010

What’s that racket, that squealing, that ‘stuck’ pig noise?

Orbitals model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image

Space-filling model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image. Sulfur hexafluoride is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases known, with "global warming potential" 22,800 times that of CO2. EPA proposes to measure SF6 emissions as a first step toward reducing emissions. Warming deniers propose to stop the regulations.

EPA published regulations for measuring greenhouse gases as part of its CO2 emission regulatory program — and the noise is the reaction of the anti-warmists.

Here’s EPA’s press release — notice the links to longer explanations, and note especially that the regulations are not final yet, but are instead open for public comment.

June 29, 2010

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for Four Emissions Sources

Agency also to consider data confidentiality

WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing requirements under its national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities. The data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of GHG emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them.

Methane is the primary GHG emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere.  The main fluorinated GHG emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has an even greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

These source categories will begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011, with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012.

In a separate proposed rule, EPA is requesting public comment on which industry related GHG information would be made publicly available and which would be considered confidential. Under the Clean Air Act, all emission data are public. Some non-emission data, however, may be considered confidential, because it relates to specific information which, if made public, could harm a business’s competitiveness. Examples of data considered confidential under this proposal include certain information reported by fossil fuel and industrial gas suppliers related to production quantities and raw materials. EPA is committed to providing the public with as much information as possible while following the law.

The GHG reporting program requires suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial GHGs and large direct emitters of greenhouse gases to report to EPA.  Collecting this data will allow businesses to track emissions and identify cost effective ways to reduce emissions.  EPA is preparing to provide data to the public after the first annual GHG reports are submitted in March 2011.

There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rules that will begin upon publication in the federal register.

More information on the final rule to add reporting requirements for four source categories:


More information on the proposal on data confidentiality:



These regulations are those complained about and proposed to be stopped by critics of the campaign to stop global warming.  Alaska’s pro-warming Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a resolution to stop these regulations, with the support of junk science lobbyists including the National Center for Policy Research.  Fortunately, on June 10 the Senate voted 47-53 to reject a motion to consider the resolution, S. J. Res. 26, “A joint resolution disapproving a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.”

Both of Texas’s senators were suckered by the junk science.  Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison both co-sponsored the losing resolution.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit to stop the regulations.  Abbott’s opponent in the 2010 elections, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, probably the only one of these Texans who might understand sulfur hexafluoride’s role as a pollutant, criticized the suit and urged Abbott to spend his time protecting Texas oil fields from oil company sabotage.

Help control emissions from climate “skeptics,” and spread the good word:

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French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson’s Disease

June 16, 2010

French researchers looked at men who possess a gene that predisposes them to Parkinson’s Disease, and found that DDT exposure correlates with actual onset of the disease.

(Reuters) – Men with certain genetic variations who were exposed to some toxic pesticides which are now largely banned run an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, French scientists said Monday.

Researchers found that among men exposed to pesticides such as DDT, carriers of the gene variants were three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those with the normal version of the gene.

The scientists, whose work was published in the Archives of Neurology journal, think the brains of people with the gene variant fail to flush out toxins as efficiently as those with normal versions of the gene, suggesting environmental as well as genetic factors are important in the risk of Parkinson’s.

DDT, which belongs to a group of pesticides known as organochlorines, is one of the “Dirty Dozen” chemicals banned by a 2001 United Nations convention after it was found to be a toxin that can suppress the immune system.

It is infamous for threatening bird populations by thinning eggshells, and has also been linked to increase risks in humans of diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s — an incurable and often deadly brain disease.

But exemptions to the DDT ban are allowed in many developing nations because it so effective in killing mosquitoes. DDT’s Swiss inventor Paul Hermann Muller won the 1948 Nobel Prize for Medicine — before its wider toxic effects were known.

Alexis Elbaz and Fabien Dutheil, of France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) studied 101 men with Parkinson’s and 234 without the disease to look at links between organochlorine exposure and Parkinson’s disease.

The study included only men, and all of them had had high levels of exposure to pesticides through their work as farmers.

The scientists found the link was around 3.5 times stronger in men who carried two copies of a gene known as ABCB1, which plays a role in helping the brain flush out dangerous chemicals.

File that one away for the next time some yahoo claims there are no harmful effects to health from DDT.  The study probably could not distinguish between heavy exposure to pesticides and the much lighter exposure assumed to result from Indoor Residual Spraying of DDT, such as is used in some places in Africa in the fight against malaria.

Anybody got a copy of the actual study, in English?

Annals of Global Warming: NOAA team finds oceans heated up since 1993

May 21, 2010

News from NOAA and NASA:

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

John Lyman and Gregory Johnson show instruments used to measure ocean temperature - NOAA photo, 2010

From NOAA: John Lyman (left) holds an expendable bathythermograph or XBT, a device that was dropped from ships to obtain temperature. Gregory Johnson (right) holds an ARGO Float, an autonomous, free-floating ocean device that collects a variety of data, including temperature. (NOAA photo, 2010)

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

“The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study. “So as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean.”

A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up. The scientists say that this expansion accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise.

Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean – from the surface to about 2,000 feet down – the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world’s ocean. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called ARGO as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.

The team notes that there are still some uncertainties and some biases.

“The XBT data give us vital information about past changes in the ocean, but they are not as accurate as the more recent Argo data,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “However, our analysis of these data gives us confidence that on average, the ocean has warmed over the past decade and a half, signaling a climate imbalance.”

Data from the array of Argo floats­ – deployed by NOAA and other U.S. and international partners ­– greatly reduce the uncertainties in estimates of ocean heat content over the past several years, the team said. There are now more than 3,200 Argo floats distributed throughout the world’s ocean sending back information via satellite on temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean properties.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook.

Note: Full name of the paper is Robust Warming of the Global Upper Ocean. Authors are John M. Lyman, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa and NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Simon A. Good, Met Office Hadley Centre; Viktor V. Gouretski Klima Campus, University of Hamburg; Masayoshi Ishii, Climate Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Japan; Gregory C. Johnson, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Matthew D. Palmer, Met Office Hadley Centre; Doug M. Smith, Met Office Hadley Centre; and Josh K. Willis, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Map showing 3,200 free-floating Argo floats, instruments used to measure ocean temperature - International Argo Project

From NASA: The international science team analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean, based on ocean temperature data from a global array of more than 3,200 Argo free-floating profiling floats and longer data records from expendable bathythermographs dropped from ships. Image credit: International Argo Project


Update, February 16, 2011: Interesting that this research got so little play in mainstream media, more curious that those who contend global warming and/or the need to do anything about it have buried it so well.  RealClimate noted that denialist Larry Bell, writing in Forbes, even cited the work of this team, but claiming a contrary resultEven Watts Up appears to have gone silent on this after a curtain-raiser post on the project.  Odd.

Rep. Markey: “Those who deny global warming . . . have been refuted”

May 7, 2010

Chairman and scientist witnesses at May 6 hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

Members of commitee and scientist witnesses at May 6 hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. From left: Rep. Jay Inslee, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Dr. James Hurrell, Chairman Ed Markey, Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Dr. James McCarthy, and Dr. Chris Field

Excerpt from the opening statement from Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, at a May 6 hearing:

Those who deny global warming point to past uncertainties that have been refuted. They ignore the overwhelming observational evidence that the increased levels of heat-trapping pollution are already warming the planet. Instead of trying to understand the science, they use stolen emails about analysis of tree rings in Siberia to turn an honest discussion into a Russian Tree Ring Circus. Or they manufacture a cooling trend by cherry picking a few years out of a longer record of warming temperatures.

While the deniers hope to confuse the public, the real world consequences of inaction mount. Over the weekend, killer storms blew through Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. In Nashville, nearly 13 inches of rain fell in just over two days time – almost doubling the previous record that fell in the aftermath of a hurricane in 1979.

These storms follow the wettest March on record in Boston. Two 50-year storms occurred within 2 weeks of each other. The National Guard was mobilized. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes. The region suffered millions of dollars in damages.

No single rainstorm can be attributed to climate change. Nor can a snowstorm disprove its existence. But the underlying science and the observed trends do point to more extreme weather events, especially heavy precipitation events because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.

Extreme rainfall is just one of the consequences of the carbon pollution we are releasing into the air. Our witnesses today will explain how science has revealed this unseen pollution for what it is and discuss the very real consequences of its continuing accumulation in the atmosphere.

As we approach summer, our clean energy debate needs to acknowledge what many would like to deny. Our dependence on oil carries with it national security, economic and environmental risks. As gas prices rise and the oil slick spreads, perhaps we will finally acknowledge that we cannot drill our way to independence. We have less than 3 percent of proven oil reserves. Perhaps we can also acknowledge the basic facts that have been known for decades—increasing carbon pollution in the atmosphere is warming the planet and that the only way to put a halt to such warming is to move to clean energy solutions.

Tell the anti-warmists to refute this:

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Climate denialism as Mrs. Gump might see it

May 7, 2010

Stupid is as stupid does.

Climate denialists trumpeted a hearing scheduled for Thursday before a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives at which the madcap, veracity-challenged Christopher Monckton will carry the banner for denialism:

Also testifying to the panel will be another Briton, Lord Christopher Monckton, a hereditary peer in the House of Lords and prominent critic of the scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic climate change.

Of course, Monckton is not a hereditary peer of the House of Lords.  He has a peerage, but in Britain, they won’t let him near the levers of government.  No one has a hereditary peerage any more, and Monckton has never sat in Lords or Commons.

If Monckton can lie about stuff like that, what won’t he lie about?  If the denialists can be suckered so easily, what makes anyone think they are skeptics, and not gullibles? Bogus history, voodoo history, and voodoo science from the Republican end of the Select Committee.  Astonishing.

At the hearing a letter from 250 scientists, members of the National Academy of Sciences, called on Congress to act wisely and soon to fight human-caused global warming.

Incredibly, Monckton was the sole witness from the Republican side.  Remember the title of Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science? It’s still a valid title, it appears.

Witnesses at May 6, 2010 hearing before House Select Committee on Global Warming

Monckton squirms among the scientists: From left, Dr. James Hurrell, Dr. James McCarthy, Lord Christopher Monckton, Dr. Chris Field, Dr. Lisa Graumlich; photo from the Select Committee

The hearing was before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.

Written statements from the May 6 hearing:

Statements are in .pdf format.

  • OPENING STATEMENT: Chairman Edward J. Markey
  • Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, and member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
  • Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report due in 2014
  • Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
  • Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC reports
  • Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Adviser, Science and Public Policy Institute

The hearing got precious little press, but it’s interesting to see the blogs that lead the denialism charge try to ignore most of the hearing.

Annals of Global Warming: Kiss goodbye the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay

May 5, 2010

Endangered beaches in Chesapeake Bay - map from Jim Titus, EPA

Endangered beaches in Chesapeake Bay - map from Jim Titus, EPA, via Wired

At Mother Jones Magazine’s website, “Buh-bye, East Coast Beaches”:

Over the past decade, [Jim] Titus and a team of contractors combined reams of data to construct a remarkably detailed model of how sea-level rise will impact the eastern seaboard. It was the largest such study ever undertaken, and its findings were alarming: Over the next 90 years, 1,000 square miles of inhabited land on the East Coast could be flooded, and most of the wetlands between Massachusetts and Florida could be lost. The favorably peer-reviewed study was scheduled for publication in early 2008 as part of a Bush Administration report on sea-level rise, but it never saw the light of day—an omission criticized by the EPA’s own scientific advisory committee. Titus has urged the more science-friendly Obama administration to publish his work, but so far, it hasn’t—and won’t say why.

So Titus recently launched a personal website, risingsea.net, to publish his work. “I decided to do my best to prevent the taxpayer investment from being wasted,” he says. The site includes “When the North Pole Melts,” a prescient holiday ditty recorded by his musical alter ego, Captain Sea Level, in the late ’80s.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Climate Desk.

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Annals of global warming: March 2010, warmest March ever

April 20, 2010

NOAA's tracking of temperature change from 1971-2000 base, for March 2010

From NOAA, released April 15, 2010

Global warming slowed or stopped?  Let’s look at the facts:

NOAA: Global Temps Push Last Month to Hottest March on Record

April 15, 2010

The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to NOAA. Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January – March period on record.

NOAA’s (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) report points out — again — that local weather is not world climate:

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 56.3°F (13.5°C), which is 1.39°F (0.77°C) above the 20th century average of 54.9°F (12.7°C).
  • The worldwide ocean surface temperature was the highest for any March on record –1.01°F (0.56°C) above the 20th century average of 60.7°F (15.9°C).
  • Separately, the global land surface temperature was 2.45°F (1.36°C) above the 20th century average of 40.8 °F (5.0°C) — the fourth warmest on record. Warmer-than-normal conditions dominated the globe, especially in northern Africa, South Asia and Canada. Cooler-than-normal regions included Mongolia and eastern Russia, northern and western Europe, Mexico, northern Australia, western Alaska and the southeastern United State

News continues to roll in about the investigations of the stealing of e-mails from England’s Hadley Climate Research Unit (CRU), and the news is that the scientists who documented global warming were accurate and honest.  Alas, such reports do not slow the anti-science denialist mob provocateurs.

So, we have assurance that the scientists are honest and hardworking.  Their hard work shows the planet warming, and the most likely proximate cause of the warming is human-caused effluents.

Did your newspaper cover the story?  How will denialists react?  Will anyone really notice?

Debunking Monckton’s “no warming” hoax, Part 2

April 17, 2010

So, Maggie Thatcher, his boss, also rejected Christopher Monckton’s preposterous claims against the science of climate change?

Who knew?

It’s clear Christopher Monckton doesn’t know . . . much of value.

Sorta disappointed Peter Sinclair didn’t go after Monckton’s preposterous insults of Jackie Kennedy and Rachel Carson, but there’s only so much debunking one can do in a limited period of time, and so much of Monckton’s work requires debunking, even cries out for debunking.

Is there anything Monckton claims which is not hoax?

EPA’s Earth Month Tip of the Day, April 13

April 13, 2010

One day doesn’t cut it anymore — there’s enough fouling of our planet to require an entire month of concern.  Some say that’s not enough.

Here’s EPA’s Tip of the Day for today, April 13, with information on how you can listen to EPA podcasts and subscribe to the Tip of the Day feature:

Tread lightly! Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. If you can work from home, you’ll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion – and save money.
Play the podcast (MP3, 788KB, runtime 0:47) | Reduce your carbon footprint.

Want more tips? Visit EPA’s Earth Day site to learn more about Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and what you can do to help protect human health and the environment.  http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips2.htm

Monckton’s global warming denialism debunked

April 12, 2010

Peter Sinclair’s Hoax-Exposing Supervision found Christopher Monckton — and this is just part one.  More hoax in Monckton than anyone really feared:

Tip of the old scrub brush to the indefatigable Tim Lambert at Deltoid.

Crank climate science conference

April 10, 2010

Heartland Institute, a right-wing political “think tank,” is sponsoring another conference of crank science about and crank scientists on global warming, May 16 to 18 in Chicago.

“Another?”  Yeah, this is the fourth one.

The first one featured pure crankery, often, from Christopher Monckton and Steven Milloy, two people who have made careers out of pissing in the soup of science.  The second conference pretended warming isn’t happening (the title of the conference was).  The theme of the third conference is “Reconsidering the Science and the Economics,” but you’d have to be complete fool to think the Heartland Institute would allow a reconsideration of their misplaced sniping at science and bizarre claims that we cannot afford a healthy planet (we can’t afford an unhealthy planet!).

Monckton and Milloy, you recall,  are two of the people promoting the shameful and erroneous attacks on Rachel Carson.  Monckton stepped up the insanity, blaming Jackie Kennedy for malaria in Africa.

Milloy’s been left out of this one, but most of the grand cranks of climate science denial will be there — Soon, McIntyre, Monckton, and our friend Anthony Watts, who thinks talk of sunshine in policy issues is “hate speech”  (Watts does not appear to be familiar with the ethics rules of journalism and political reporting.)  Former Sen. George Allen will be there to lend his expertise on energy issues, as director of the Houston-based Institute for Energy Research.  Fred Singer and Ian Plimer are scheduled.  It’s a dense program.

Watts’s topic will be “Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?”  It should be a remarkable presentation.

If the surface temperature record isn’t reliable, what’s he doing using it every day in his weather forecasts?  If it is reliable, what’s he doing attacking scientists for using it, and where does he propose to get better, more reliable data?

You can rely on this:  There will be lots of press releases, but precious little science that has gone through any peer review process to provide reliability.

In fact, now would be a great time to brush up on Jeremy Bernstein’s methods for telling crank science from genius, and Bob Parks’s “Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science.”

I’d love  to have the concession to sell the “Bogus Science Bingo” cards at the meeting.

Chicago in May can be delightful.  Cooler days do not get so cool.  Spring flowers still erupt.  Warmer days will invite outdoor dining downtown and at Chicago’s great neighborhood restaurants.

But these guys will stay indoors and carp about science, about imagined conspiracies to keep their words of wisdom out of publication.  Most of them will have some corporate or PAC group paying their way, but a few people will pay to see this parade of voodoo science.  They will be had by all.

Parliament’s investigation: Stolen e-mails reveal no wrong-doing by climate scientists

March 31, 2010

As Galileo might have said, “Still the planet warms.”

A committee of England’s Parliament released its report on Hadley Climate Research Unit’s (CRU) stolen e-mails earlier today.  The reports you heard that the scientific case showing global warming with human causation had died, were exaggerated, significantly in error, and hoaxes themselves.

The report comes from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.  Press release with links and previous releases from the Committee, below:

The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia

Report publishedThe Committee published ‘The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia‘, HC 387-I, its Eighth Report of Session 2009-10, on Wednesday 31 March 2010. Volume II, the oral and written evidence, was published the same day.


The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The Committee calls for the climate science community to become more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies.

Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

On the mishandling of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the Committee considers that much of the responsibility should lie with the University, not CRU. The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure, particularly to climate change sceptics. The failure of the University to grasp fully the potential damage this could do and did was regrettable. The University needs to re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in FoI requests is limited.

Committee announcementOn 22 January the Science and Technology Committee announced an inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Commenting on the material which the Committee has received since the announcement the Chairman, Phil Willis MP, said:

The Committee has been receiving a steady stream of contributions to the inquiry, for which it is grateful.  I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the focus of the inquiry is the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research and the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA.  It is not an inquiry into global warming. In the time remaining before the General Election the Committee would not have time to carry out such an inquiry.

Terms of Reference
The Science and Technology Committee today announces an inquiry into the unauthorised publication of data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The Committee has agreed to examine and invite written submissions on three questions:—What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

—Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate (see below)?

—How independent are the other two international data sets?


On 1 December 2009 Phil Willis, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, wrote to Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of UEA following the considerable press coverage of the data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The coverage alleged that data may have been manipulated or deleted in order to produce evidence on global warming. On 3 December the UEA announced an Independent Review into the allegations to be headed by Sir Muir Russell.

The Independent Review will:

1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

2. Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.

3. Review CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the University’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (‘the FOIA’) and the Environmental Information Regulations (‘the EIR’) for the release of data.

4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds .


The Committee invited written submissions from interested parties on the three questions set out above by  Wednesday 10 February. The deadline has now passed.

Written correspondence

10 December 2009

Letter from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia to the Chairman of the Committee

Oral evidencePrevious session:

Monday 1 March 2010
The Rt Hon the Lord Lawson of Blaby, Chairman, and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Policy Foundation; Richard Thomas CBE, former Information Commissioner; Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia and Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit; Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review; Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist, Met Office, and Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientist, Defra

Press notices31/03/10 Report published
22/01/10 Inquiry announced

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula and Watching the Deniers.


Update March 31, 20101: Is this a surprise?  Contrarians, dissenters and deniers say the report errs.

Update April 5, 2010: A little slower than I had imagined, Watts Up With That denies the accuracy of the report — but the denial is a doozy of denialist argument from authority.  It’s a “guest editorial” by S. Fred Singer. Among other things, Singer’s piece reveals why we don’t let partisan politicians run investigations.  He’s miffed because the investigation didn’t give Singer, nor any other denialist, a chance to malign Hadley CRU.  In listing reasons to put fingers in his ears and not listen, Singer said of the House of Commons report, “It did not take direct testimony from scientifically competent skeptics.” There’s no good reason Commons should have take direct testimony from “scientifically competent skeptics,” it wasn’t a news article where false balance was desired.  Instead, the question was whether Hadley’s scientists had done anything wrong.  Singer can’t know, since he has no direct involvement in Hadley’s work, nor would the biased claims of a denialist be able to shed any more light.  Perhaps critically, Singer can’t know whether the Commons committee took direct testimony from claimed skeptics or not.  That the report doesn’t mention the claims doesn’t mean the question wasn’t raised.   It means that in the end, it wasn’t relevant, and not supported by the facts.

Update April 6, 2010: Singer’s in error.  McIntyre has his say in Appendix 10 of the report.  How many other contrarians, denialists and self-proclaimed “skeptics” are in the report?

While thieves and COP15 fiddled, the world’s burning continued . . .

March 18, 2010

A friend wrote me the other day wondering what I thought about the global warming hoax.  I told him I thought denialists and contrarians have acted shamefully claiming that warming is not occurring.

My friend wrote back puzzled.  He had meant, what did I think about the collapse of the false claims of warming?  He said he had understood that almost all the claims of warming were hoaxes cast by a cabal of conspiratorialist scientists who had gotten fat government contracts only on the condition that they claimed there is warming.

It’s actually been about two weeks since I got that message, but it’s a common thought around the world.  The thieves who stole e-mails from scientists did what Shakespeare termed worse: They stole the good names of scientists.  The thieves’ accomplices, especially in blogs but also in brazen journals of bias like The Australian and The Daily Mail, successfully transplanted a stick they claimed was the end of warming science, and they’ve managed to keep it spray-painted green to convince careless observers that it’s alive.

That tree won’t flower.  God’s earth doesn’t care about such falsehoods, but goes on cycling as Darwin noted.  In that cycling, warming continues faster than apace, burning our future and our children’s futures in bits noted only by careful scientists.

While Anthony Watts and other denialists gloated about heavy snows — we’re still cleaning up broken trees and destroyed groves and forests here in Dallas — fact is the North American west suffered from a snow drought.  You may have seen part of it if you watched the Olympics from Vancouver.  It was unseasonably warm, and until the second week there was a great shortage of natural snow for snow events.

We may forget about the ecological chains that weather actually push.  Over at Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News I found a story about the annual count of elk in Wyoming/Montana/Idaho.  Ralph tracks all sorts of wildlife news, but especially news about wolves and wolf reintroductions.  Wolf packs prey on elk when they can.  The health of elk herds affects the health of wolf packs.

In January I heard there would be no elk count this year because the lack of snow made counting pretty much impossible. I’m glad the amount of snow increased because these numbers are important. Gaps in the data are harmful.

How much have you heard about snowfall shortages in the west, other than the Olympics?  The drought is pretty bad up there.  Much of the Mountain west, on both sides of the Rockies, gets water from the melting snows.  It doesn’t rain much in the spring and summer, but melting snows supply rivers throughout the year.  One reader commented at Maughan’s blog:

I have been in the back country of Montana, Idaho and Washington in the last 3 months and I can tell you, there is no snow to really speak of, the place I stay in Montana normally has about 5-6 feet of snow on the ground in January and when I returned around the first part of January, it had about a foot, Bozeman was very low snow as was Great Falls and Billings, Sandpoint has flowers blooming already, the Columbia River Gorge area up in the Mountains above the Gorge is greening up real well, no snow and Mount Hood has not had much snow either.

Right now, it looks very bleak for river levels this year, My wife was on the phone with her cousin in Florence, MT and Her Uncle in Lincoln, MT this week and they are saying the snow is just not there this year and expects that fishing this year will be very poor due to low water levels and higher river temps, one lives on the Blackfoot and the other on the Bitterroot..

Looks like unless we have a strong spring rain season, things could get dicey this year..

Anecdotal news, just one spot of rather amorphous data, right?

No.  It’s widespread.

Snow Drought in Interior Northwest - USA Today graphic

Snow Drought in Interior Northwest – USA Today graphic

Surely not all the droughts nor drought effects can be blamed on warming — but the rolling disasters of dead forests, especially from pine borers and pine bark beetles, across North America, can be fairly attributed to global warming.  Average winters would kill the insects — where average winters now are a rarity, forests that have stood at least since Columbus are dying out.  Many of the dying forests predate the coming of all humans to the Americas, 37,000 years ago or so.

Housing prices will rise.  Wildfires will increase.  Water emergencies will be declared, and restrictions on development in water-strapped counties and states will be enacted.

Humans can deny warming and human causation.  But even the Rockies cry out.

Who will listen?

US Drought Monitor, March 16, 2010

US Drought Monitor, March 16, 2010 – Click image for updated maps

Boulder and Fort Collins: Wise city action prevents global warming? WUWT misreports the story

March 15, 2010

This is a story of two cities located within 100 miles of each other in Colorado, in that paradise created by close mountain recreation, clean and clear western vistas, and local, great universities.  The question is, does this story tell a tale of urban growth that mistakenly shows up as global warming, or is it a story of wise planning that avoids the harms of global warming — or something else in between, or completely different?

Boulder at twilight - Wikipedia Image by Phil Armitage

Boulder, Colorado at twilight, at the foot of the Rockies – Wikipedia Image by Phil Armitage

Anthony Watts complained that I don’t read his blog closely enough, or often enough.  He may rue the day he made that complaint.

Browsing over there I found a post hidden under a headline, “A UHI Tale of Two Cities.” I say “hidden” because Watts once again falls victim to the Dunning-Kruger syndrome of using an acronym, UHI, which sounds sciency but is in fact confusing to anyone not following the debate closely.  I’m science literate, I’ve done research, I’ve done air pollution research, I’ve served state, federal and local governmental bodies working on environmental issues, and “UHI” didn’t ring any bells with me.  It’s a MEGO phrase, in other words:  My Eyes Glaze Over.

It took five clicks, but I discovered UHI is “urban heat island,” the well-worried-over effect of cities, with all their concrete, asphalt and steel, holding heat longer than surrounding countryside.  In some cases, it is hypothesized that these urban heat islands affect or create their own weather.  In the airline industry we worried about late afternoon thunderstorms that continued well past historical evening limits (and I suspect airline meteorologists and flight schedulers still worry about the issue, but I’ve been out of it for well over a decade).

For the study of global warming, the issues are simple but important:  Do temperature measures made in or near big cities inaccurately show warming that is wholly local, and mislead scientists into thinking there is global warming?  Or is some of the supposed heat island effect instead due to global warming?  And, if it the urban heat island effect is mostly local, should we worry about it when developing policies to combat global warming and preserve our forests, wildlands and wildlife, wildernesses. oceans, rivers, farmlands and urban areas, and modern life?

Southwest quadrant of Boulder Colorado, showing greenbelt and trails - image from city website with information on greenbelt use and open space regulations, and maps.

Southwest quadrant of Boulder Colorado, showing greenbelt and trails – image from city website with information on greenbelt use and open space regulations, and maps. Boulder’s greenbelt open space and wild lands may get more visitors than nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

In the post at Watts’s site, this is stated (from Watts?  from someone else?  Who can tell?):


We have two weather stations in similarly sited urban environments. Until 1965 they tracked each other very closely.  Since then, Fort Collins has seen a relative increase in temperature which tracks the relative increase in population. UHI is clearly not dead.

Watts misses much of the story.

In the middle 1960s and into the early 1970s Boulder, Colorado, made conscious and careful attempts to preserve its environmental quality.  In 1967 Boulder created a greenbelt plan that started the processes to preserve an open space belt around the city, to preserve wild lands and to provide a sink for air pollutants and other effects of the city.  In the early 1970s the city limited city growth to assure environmental quality.

Alternatives to Growth Oregon (AGO) featured an excerpt from a book detailing several growth-controlling actions by American cities as well and succinctly as anything else I’ve found (excerpted from Better Not Bigger by Eben Fodor)

In 1967, Boulder voters approved one of the nation’s first locally funded greenbelt systems. They used a local sales tax increase of 0.4 percent to finance open space land acquisitions. As of 1998, Boulder had raised $116 million and acquired 33,000 acres of greenways and mountain parks. The greenbelt system serves as a natural growth boundary, defining the limits of the city with open space and parkland. This natural boundary helps to block urban sprawl and “leapfrog” development. The greenbelt has also helped protect the quality of life in Boulder as the city has grown. It is said that more people use the greenbelt system each year than visit nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. As an added measure, Boulder established a building height limitation of 55 feet in 1971 to preserve the view of the Rockies. The city and surrounding county have cooperated on planning and growth-management policies and jointly adopted the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. A city-county study in 1970 showed the area’s population doubling in 20 years to 140,000. This projection alarmed many residents and prompted discussions about optimum population size. A public opinion survey found that more than 70 percent of respondents favored population stabilization near the 100,000 level.

In November, 1971 Boulder citizens set another first when they placed an initiative on the ballot to create a charter amendment setting a maximum population limit for the city. Voters narrowly defeated the initiative. The defeat may have been partly due to an alternative referendum placed on the same ballot by the city council. This second referendum was approved by 70 percent of voters and directed local government to “take steps necessary to hold the rate of growth in the Boulder Valley to a level substantially below that experiences in the 1960’s.” This important decision has led to a number of experimental growth-management policies that are still being fine-tuned today.

More information on greenbelts, how they work and why they are such a great idea, can be found from the Trust for Public Lands (also here), among other sources.

Fort Collins is a college town, like Boulder, and loaded with people interested in preserving the environment.  Colorado State is the state’s Land Grant College (Morrill Act), the official repository of studies of protecting and wisely using the lands of Colorado.  But Fort Collins did not create a green belt.  Development in Fort Collins follows rules, but rules set by more traditional zoning and protection regulations than Boulder’s green belt.

Exploring Old Town Fort Collins by bicycle - City of Fort Collins photo

Exploring Old Town Fort Collins by bicycle – City of Fort Collins photo

Watts’s blog lays the differences in temperatures between Boulder and Fort Collins since 1965 entirely at the feet of rising population, and an assumption that rising population means more concrete, asphalt and steel (Watts writing, or someone else?).  Analysis of population growth from any serious statistical viewpoint, comparing Fort Collins-Loveland SMSA against the Boulder MSA (or Denver-Boulder SMSA) is lacking.  This is probably more a reminder that Watts’s blog is not engaged in serious scientific analysis global warming from a global view — nor even a national, state or regional view.  The comparison is simple, on population and temperature, and probably not sustainable to the point Watts suggests he wants to take it.

The population of the City of Boulder grew less than the population of the City of Fort Collins grew.  That appears to be enough for Watts.

Check with the public officials of Boulder, especially those in charge of development and zoning.  They’ll let you know in a hurry that Boulder’s slower-than-Fort-Collins growth is intentional.  While the Boulder plan technically has no upper limit, it slows growth so that environmental quality can be maintained, especially the greenbelt, with its manifold recreation opportunities.

Fort Collins has a lot of good recreation, too.  The Cache de Poudre River offers great river running within 40 minutes of downtown in the summer, and the local National Forests and other public lands offer camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and I imagine, snowmobiling in winter.  There are bike paths through Fort Collins — but not the green, automobile-free style of trails available all around Boulder.

Scouts climbing at Camp Ben DelaTour, outside of Fort Collins - Longs Peak Council BSA photo

Scouts climbing at Camp Ben DelaTour, outside of Fort Collins – Longs Peak Council BSA photo

Perhaps most important, Fort Collins experiences “leapfrog” development that Boulder specifically spurned 40 years ago.  New businesses cluster along roads into town, frequently just out of the city limits and beyond the zoning rules of the city, at least until the city annexes the land and its problems.  This is the traditional growth model for American cities.  What it ensures is urban sprawl and suburban growth.  It also virtually guarantees that there will be no preserved greenlands around the city.  Green land, rural or more wild, get developed in sprawl.

Here’s the question Watts and his collaborators don’t deal with:  How much of Boulder’s cooler climate is due to the greenbelt, and how much due to the striving for wise development instead of sprawl?  Considering Boulder’s proximity to Denver and explosive growth there, the fact that Boulder’s climate is cooler than Fort Collins’s, according to Watts, suggests even more strongly that tough protection of the environment can work wonders, if not near-miracles.

Who is Anthony Watts to claim that Boulder’s cooler climate is not the result of careful planning to preserve the environment, initiated by Boulder’s visionaries 50 years ago?

Perhaps more critically:  Doesn’t Boulder demonstrate that planning that stops global warming, is feasible, practical, economical, and perhaps, preferable?  Doesn’t the greenbelt, and lower temperatures, suggest that we can kill the urban heat island effect, to the betterment of local living standards?

There is a moral to the story of development in Fort Collins and Boulder, Colorado.  That moral has very little, if anything, to do with heat islands.  It is instead a model to tell us that planning to avoid environmental disaster is the wise thing to do.  Anthony Watts has the charts to prove it.


  • A serious study of the effects of the greenbelt, or effects of population growth, on local climate, or on global warming, in the area along the Front Range in Colorado and Wyoming would probably be strengthened with analysis of Greeley and Denver thrown in.  Denver is big enough to contain a couple of universities; Greeley is home to Northern Colorado University (as Fort Collins and Boulder are homes to Colorado State and the University of Colorado, respectively).  Growth in Greeley, a prairie, farming and beef ranching town (and former utopian destination of easterners headed west), differs markedly from Fort Collins, founded as a military outpost to protect the Overland Trail and other commerce routes through the Rockies, and Boulder, largely a mining town.  Similarities and differences between the cities could be instructive, especially considering the proximity of each to the others.
  • Boulder gets its water from a glacier, a point that shouldn’t be lost in discussions of global warming
  • City of Boulder’s officials and advisors, and Copenhagen 15 — the city took what it regarded as an active role to combat warming
  • Watts visited Boulder to check out its weather stations; his photos show the station, near the NOAA headquarters, close to the green belt.  “Sometimes people smack into the truth, and then pick themselves up and walk off as if nothing had happened.”  Watts said construction near the site demonstrated “expansion pressures.”
  • From Boulder, it’s 38 miles to Fort Collins, and 38 miles to Greeley.  Greeley and Fort Collins are 19 miles apart.  From Denver it’s 26 miles to Boulder, 47 to Greeley and 55 to Fort Collins.
  • Two-needled ponderosa pines live outside of Fort Collins, to the northwest.  Most pines have odd numbers of needles, and ponderosa typically have five needles.

Update, James Madison Day (3-16-2010): Watts still doesn’t get it.  In a post today he wrote:

My last few posts have described a new method for quantifying the average Urban Heat Island (UHI) warming effect as a function of population density, using thousands of pairs of temperature measuring stations within 150 km of each other. The results supported previous work which had shown that UHI warming increases logarithmically with population, with the greatest rate of warming occurring at the lowest population densities as population density increases.

Comparing Fort Collins with Boulder, and noting that Fort Collins grew faster, is an inadequate explanation for more warming in Fort Collins, about 40 miles north of Boulder.  Boulder has a greenbelt designed to frustrate global warming, locally and globally.  To fail to account for the effect of a massive green belt of 33,000 acres — more than double the size of the city’s 16,000 acres — is a failure of science.  If Watts’s methodology misses such factors that slap an unbiased viewer in the face, you’ve gotta wonder what else he’s missing.  If he can’t see a greenbelt twice the size of the city, surrounding the city, what else has he overlooked?

Plus there is this:  Assume for a moment that he proves a heat island effect exists (a proposal unquestioned in meteorology and atmospheric sciences for a generation, by the way) — the question he’s seeking to prove is that urban heat islands skew official temperature readings enough to falsely indicate global warming.  To skew measurements that include thousands of at-sea sensing devices, and rural areas around the world, there would have to be an massive effect that would be immediately obvious in the cities causing the effect:  They would melt.

Flatirons rock formations, on Green Mountain, near Boulder, Colorado - Wikimedia photo by Jesse Varner

Flatirons rock formations, on Green Mountain, near Boulder, Colorado – Wikimedia photo by Jesse Varner

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Arctic Ocean gives up more methane than scientists predicted

March 4, 2010

Here’s another point of science that will give rational people concern, and which cannot in any way be explained as “no problem” by stolen e-mails:  Methane releases from the floor of the East Siberian Arctic are much larger than predicted.

Methane hydrates releasing methane gas in bubbles in the ocean - i.treehugger image

Underwater methane gas plumes, Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Frozen forms of methane dot the bottoms of our oceans.  Warming of the oceans might be able to trigger an explosive thawing of the methane hydrates, as the frozen forms are known, seriously adding to our worldwide greenhouse gas problems.

Story here at Global ChangeScience article on which that post is based, here.

Cool SONAR pictures of methane bubbling up from the floor of the Arctic Ocean, but scary once you realize what they are, at this vintage post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Is there any chance this research will merit a mention at the climate denialist blogs?

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