From the monthly archives: "June 2014"

Over at The Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch reports that the liars & hoaxers at NOAA have been caught fudging — and then fixing — their “official”  temperature records by Anthony Watts, the super-blogging meteorologist at WattsUpWithThat.com —  NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record

If any weatherman deserved a Pulitzer, it’s Watts. His science-heavy site, when you can understand it, is the premier clubhouse of the anti-global warming forces.

Here’s a 2009 Q&A that I, Libertarian Elder Bill Steigerwald, did with Watts, who has done more to fact-check, challenge and debunk the myths and BS of global warming than any one carbon-spewing human could ever do.

 

Anthony Watts, man of science

Anyone who regularly tunes into WattsUpWithThat.com, the popular climate-science blog operated by Anthony Watts, will never make fun of TV weathermen again. Watts ­ who was a TV meteorologist for 25 years ­ provides a steady diet of smart, always interesting and sometimes deeply complex scientific information and opinion about global climate change. Watts is also the founder of surfacestations.org, a project that for nearly two years has been quality-checking each of the 1,200-plus weather stations of the U. S. Historical Climate Network (USHCN) to see if they are set up and maintained properly. So far, Watts and his volunteers have checked about 820 of the weather stations, which have been in place for about 100 years and are the source for the country’s official average annual temperature. Watts has found that temperature data from nearly 70 percent of the stations is of questionable accuracy because the stations do not adhere to the USHCN’s own quality-control guidelines. I talked to Watts April 16 by phone from his office in Chico, Calif.

 

Q: Why do you do your blog WattsUpWithThat?

A: Well, it’s just an extension of what my life has been up until the last few years. I was a broadcaster on television ­ a meteorologist ­ for 25 years. I look at the blog as really no different. I did a daily broadcast each day in television. A blog is really just a daily broadcast in a different form.

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: I never really thought about a target audience. I took the same philosophy from broadcasting. I made it to reach as broad an audience as possible and the demographics that I get from it tell me I am doing that job successfully. I’ve got everything from people with high school educations to people that are Ph.Ds who are reading and commentating and sometimes even submitting articles.

Q: Sometimes it gets pretty deep ­ lots of scientific charts and data.

A: It does. But that is to be expected because of the broad audience we have. My job is to try to make everything understandable, even for people who are not in tune with some of the more technical details of climate.

Q: Have you become more politicized since you began blogging? Or are you primarily still a man of science?

A: Well, my main interest always has been the science. I am still of the belief that you should let the data tell you what the real story is. As far as the blog goes, the only thing I can say that I’ve become a little more critical of in terms of politics is that we have some people now who should be sticking to science, such as Jim Hansen (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, going out and advocating things such as civil disobedience (at coal-fired power plants). That concerns me.

Q: What is your basic position on the question of global warming? Are you a believer? A skeptic? Somewhere in between?

A: I would call myself what some people describe as a “lukewarmer” in that the CO2 effect that people have done thousands of studies on is in fact real. However, it is not a crisis. The reason it is not a crisis is because most people do not understand the logarithmic nature of the CO2 response in our atmosphere.

Q: And that means?

A: It’s like salting soup. If you have a bowl of soup in front of you and you put a little salt in it to salt it to taste, you say, “Well, maybe it needs just a tad more.” So you add some more salt and you think, “Maybe not quite enough.” Then you add some more, and all the sudden it’s too salty. Now if you were to add additional salt to the soup, you could not determine that it was any more salty than it already was. And if you continue to add salt, you can’t tell the difference.

CO2 is much like that in the way that our atmosphere responds to long-wave outgoing radiation, or trapping of heat. At some point when you get to a certain level, like a doubling of CO2, and then you add a second doubling of CO2, the response halves. It’s logarithmic. Then it halves again and then halves again after that. So much of the effect that we would expect to see from CO2 — because of this logarithmic response — has already happened. In essence, our soup is already fairly well salted and additional salting is not to make a whole lot of difference.

Q: What is the most harmful “fact” ­ quote unquote ­ about global warming that everyone believes but which is probably not true or at least uncertain?

A: There is a belief out there that we will get into a runaway condition where at some point a tipping point would occur and that at that point there is no turning back and then the world would destroy itself. That is being pushed in the media a lot and it is flat wrong.

As we go back into history, into past millennia, we can see that our atmosphere has in fact had much more CO2 ­ up to 6,000 parts per million, compared to the 380 parts per million that we have now ­ and it has responded and it has settled. Earth didn’t destroy itself. It didn’t burn up and boil off the oceans. So the comparison that we see with runaway global warming and the turning of Earth into Venus, things of that nature, are probably the most dangerous and wrong ideas that are being pushed.

Q: Are your troubled or annoyed by the way global warming is being discussed or covered by the mainstream media?

A: I am. And mainly because it’s getting a free pass for almost every problem that’s brought up. There’s a Web site in the UK called Number Watch (numberwatch.com) that maintains a list of literally thousands of things in the media that are blamed on global warming. It’s almost like “The Devil made me do it.” The idea here is that, yeah, we have an issue and the issue is that there is some warming of the atmosphere. That warming however is not catastrophic. It has occurred in the past and the Earth has survived. So the blaming of global warming as a catchall for every problem that we see in our environment is a disservice to science and to the people.

Q: My grandchildren ask me if the polar ice in the Northern Hemisphere is going to disappear?

A: I would say that the polar ice has disappeared in the past. Certainly there seems to be evidence of past climate situations where we may have had virtually no or none during the summertime. In the immediate future, however, I don’t think we are going to see that. In fact, we’re going through a rebound right now. If you look at the current Arctic ice extent from the Japanese agency which tracks the Arctic ice, you’ll find that it is very near normal at this point and it is rebounding well from the last couple years. Antarctic ice is above normal. And the global total amount of sea ice is above normal. So it’s not disappearing any time soon.

Q: What’s the story with the Sun? It’s been described as being asleep or in a state of “slumber” because it has had virtually no sun spots for a long time. What’s going on?

A: Well, the Sun is driven by dynamic magnetic cycles. There are 11-year and 22-year cycles that have been identified and there are longer cycles that have been theorized. In every kind of a cycling endeavor there are always lulls and there are giant peaks. We’ve seen both in the past. We’ve seen lulls in the Maunder Minimum (1645 to 1715) and the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), when virtually no sun spots appeared. Coincidentally, during those periods the weather and climate on Earth got colder.

The period that we are currently in now is what appears to be the beginning of an extended solar cycle that may now be as long as 12 1/2 years, compared to the normal 11. The current state of the Sun appears to be a similar kind of situation being set up to what it was right before the Dalton Minimum. So the possibility exists that we may find ourselves in a period of cooler weather in the next 20 to 30 years.

The missing link, however, between solar activity and Earth’s climate is “What is the amplification factor?” The total solar irradiance, or TSI, has shown to be very small and when you look at the amount of watts per meter that is delivered to the Earth’s surface, the amount of change in total solar irradiance doesn’t appear to be enough to cause such differences in the climate of the Earth.

However, what people are looking for now is an amplification factor ­ sort of a climatic transistor, if you will. A transistor takes very small signals and amplifies them so they are audible ­ which is why radios work. The theory has been bandied about that the same kind of process occurs in Earth’s climate. A very small change in signal related to solar activity ­ and we don’t know which signal yet; it could be total solar irradiance, it could be ultraviolent; it could be magnetic; it could be cosmic rays; there are number of things that are being looked at — gets amplified in Earth’s natural processes and changes. That’s what needs to be identified before a complete causal relationship is established between changes on the Sun’s solar cycle and changes in Earth’s climate.

Q: When we know the immense size of the Sun and power of the Sun and relative tininess of Earth, doesn’t the Sun just scream out as being the chief culprit of climate change on Earth?

A: On the surface — on a simple analysis — one would think that. But again, the missing link is, what is the true causal relationship between changes in the Sun’s solar cycle and Earth climate. Where’s the amplification factor? Because just the change in the amount of sunlight that occurs doesn’t appear to be enough to account for the observed changes in the past. So we are looking for that link.

However, I would say that the Sun really is the Big Kahuna of all the climate on earth. We would not have any climate. We would not have any weather. We would not have any ocean currents. We would not have life. We would have nothing if it were not for the Sun. So the Sun is this central point from which everything on Earth springs. We should not ignore that fact.

Q: Is a period of global cooling coming? And if so, what would you point to as evidence of that?

A: Well, there is a post on my blog today (April 16) about the computer models (of future global average temperatures) starting to diverge from the climate reality. This is something that is really kind of unexpected. The models continue to go up in (global temperature) but the climate reality and the current (global temperature) measurement starts to go down. They are diverging and have been diverging since 2006. There are a number of things that have aligned that make me think that perhaps we are in for a cooling period. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, for example, has shifted from its warm regime to its cold regime last year. NASA JPL certified this. The last time it switched — in 1978 — it switched from a cool regime to a warm regime. We’ve been riding that warm period all the way since then.

Q: Is there a quick way to explain what the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is?

A: It has a larger influence than either La Nina or El Nino. It is a broad swath of water that extends from the Equator up into Alaska that changes the character of the surface temperatures of the Pacific over that broad swath of water. It was discovered by looking into changes in fishery stock by the University of Washington. The fishing stocks were changing and they had no explanation for it. They starting looking for it and they discovered it was linked to the food supply. And the food supply ­ krill and phytoplankton and all that sort of stuff ­ was linked to the changes in the temperature of the water. So they discovered this pattern. So it’s a broad, wholesale change in the structure of the surface temperature of the Pacific.

Q: That has obvious influences over the whole climate for years afterwards.

A: Particularly the United States, because the weather flows from west to east. And particularly California. California had a fairly cool climate prior to 1978. And during the warmer period from 1978 to last year, agriculture boomed in California. Grapes began to be grown in places they haven’t been grown before. The wine industry expanded. Agricultural expanded. And it expanded under a warmer climatic regime. Now that warmer climatic regime is in danger of shrinking again. So we may find growing seasons and growing places reduced back to areas that they were historically at in 1978.

Q: What is the most important, irrefutable truth about the climate of Earth that you wish every schoolchild and every elected official in Washington understood?

A: That the climate has always changed. It has never been static. In the past it has seen extremes hotter and colder than what we experience today. So change is normal.

Q: Since you are a meteorologist, I’ll put you on the spot. Ten years from now what will we be talking about, global warming or global cooling?

A: I believe it will be global cooling, based on the fact that there are several things aligning ­ like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the solar patterns and so forth — to make it appear that we might be in for a period of global cooling. However, I am also prepared to say that I may be completely wrong.

A libertarian panel hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.

-Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino

-Michelle Montalvo: Perpetual intern, sci-fi enthusiast; @michelle7291

-Cory Massimino: Student, writer for DL Magazine, Students for Liberty Blog, Center for a Stateless Society; @CoryMassimino

-David Lowenthal: blogger for The Forgotten Beard; @davidlowenthal1

Our cranky, liberty-loving panel discussed the Supreme Court ruling on cell phone warrants, the state of the Fourth Amendment, immigration and the border, and Gary Oldman, political correctness and libertarian celebrities. Takeaway question: does Pat Buchanan got to Mexican restaurants?

Pulling a libertarian quote from John Steinbeck out of my book and tying it into the 4th of July, Alak Mehta of the Blaze.com gives me a priceless plug and alerts the folks in Glen Beck Land to the existence of “Dogging Steinbeck,” which he kindly — and accurately — calls “a hilarious, exuberant read that reveals much about John Steinbeck and the diversity of people, places, and attitudes that is America.”

Football season started this weekend.
I’m not talking about futbol. I’m talking about the North American game. The one where humans are allowed to take advantage of their opposable thumbs. The Canadian Football League played a full schedule after opening the season Wednesday night.

ESPN signed a multiyear deal with the CFL, and there will be 17 regular-season games and the Grey Cup tournament available to American viewers. Most NFL fans look down their noses at the CFL. It’s played at the wrong time of year, and it’s played by guys who could never play in the NFL.

Doug Flutie disagrees with that.

He told MMQB.com that the NFL is only now catching up to what he was doing in Canada in 1990.
“The game in Canada was more exciting, more explosive, more wide open. It was what the NFL is now becoming. We were going no-huddle, over the ball, from the time I got up there. No-back sets. Six wide receivers, throwing the ball all over the field. There is a 20-second clock between plays rather than 40. It just creates a pace that the NFL is now realizing to be more exciting — and actually more effective.

“The NFL is turning into a no-huddle, up-tempo, fast-paced, throw-the- football type of game now. The CFL has been that for the last 30 years.”
What Flutie doesn’t mention is that because the NFL has four downs to get 10 yards as opposed to the CFL’s three, there is a lot more dinking and dunking in the NFL.

I haven’t been sold on three downs instead of four yet, but I do know that three downs makes it a lot harder for teams to sit on a lead. Especially when the clock stops after every play in the last three minutes of each half and there are only 20 seconds between plays.
I’ll be watching the CFL this summer. I know it’s not the NFL, but I also know that they’ll be using their hands.

• The Penguins might have succeeded in creating a better locker room when they traded James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patrick Hornqvst and Nick Spaling on Friday night, but they also traded one of the best pure goal scorers on the planet. New general manager Jim Rutherford immediately pointed out that he thought that Hornqvist, who has a reputation for playing in the dirty areas, would make them a better playoff team.

He’s probably right, because Neal’s game, for whatever reason, didn’t translate very well to the playoffs. That might be more of an indictment of the league than of Neal, but the Penguins can’t wait for the idiots in the league office to be like every other major sport and allow its skilled, exciting star players to shine in the most important, most-watched games.

Most fans, despite the fact that they don’t get a share of the winnings or a day with the Stanley Cup, would rather have a boring Cup winner than a really entertaining contender.
The Neal trade might end up being exactly what the Penguins need to become a better playoff team, but they got a little less exciting to watch.
That might not be a problem for the people who get in free, but that long sellout streak at the Consol Energy Center hasn’t been a result of mucking and grinding.

• If NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had a sense of humor he would have worn a Santa Claus suit in Philadelphia this weekend.

• I’ve seen enough of Gregory Polanco to believe that the Pirates would have at least four or five more wins if he had been on the roster to start the season. Of course, that might have jeopardized 2018, and we can’t have that.

• Josh Harrison is the Pirates’ MVP right now. It took him a while to be given as many chances to fail as a lot of other less-talented players. The fact that he is 5-foot-8 might have something to do with that. Joe Morgan is 5-7. He’s in the Hall of Fame.

• The Wall Street Journal was nice enough to publish a Writhing Scorecard for the World Cup. Geoff Foster counted 302 players who were seen rolling around in pain in the first 32 games. I doubt you could count 32 NFL or NHL players writhing around in an entire season.

Most of the writhing was done by teams that were ahead because they have more interest in wasting time. Teams that were behind accounted for 40 “injuries” and 12:30 of writhing time. Teams with the lead faked 103 injuries and spent about 50 minutes writhing.

• The best analysis of the Penguins that I heard last week came from NHL Network analyst and former NHL general manager Craig Button on my talk show: “The Penguins have depended on too few for too much for too long.”

Some good stuff here with Rob Rossi of the Trib. He is not exactly bullish on the Penguins.

This video, of course, has gone viral because that’s what humans do in 2014. We share videos of people doing sick things.

It’s hard not to focus on the vicious beating that is taking place on the video and here’s hoping the woman spends YEARS in prison for her starring role.

But what about the asshole or assholes who are recording it?

How does a normal human being stand there and, instead of intervening, take out a phone and record it?

Is the person who recorded the video feeling good about all the attention it’s getting around the world?

When he/she showed it to friends did anybody ask him/her why he/she didn’t stop the beating?

Probably not.

Sick.

Every ESPN TV and radio platform, when it isn’t shoving the World Cup in your face, is telling you that you really need to care about where Lebron James ends up next year.

I don’t care where he ends up because I don’t care about the NBA, but I understand it’s a story and it’s important to a lot of people.

What I don’t get is all the “legacy” talk.

I keep hearing and seeing discussions about LeBron’s legacy and how it will be affected if he leaves Miami and ends up on his third team.

Does anybody REALLY care about his legacy?

Does LeBron REALLY care about his legacy?

Why should he?

He should do whatever he thinks will make him happy now.

Do you really think that Wayne Gretzky cares that he made that stop in St. Louis to play for the Blues?

Would it have made sense for him to stay in Edmonton instead of agreeing to the trade to Los Angeles because it would make him happier now as a 53 year old man?

The media love to talk about this stuff, but can they really expect the players to take it seriously?

Myron Cope would say that the people obsessing on LeBron’s legacy sound like a bunch of card party women.

I would never say that in 2014 because it’s politically incorrect.

I wouldn’t want it to affect my legacy.

It’s World Cup soccer time again.

Yep, every four years the planet Earth has a party, and I’m not invited. Well, actually, that’s wrong.

Everybody’s invited, I just have no interest in going. I’ve tried and I just can’t get into soccer.

Is it because I’m old?

There’s a good chance. I was a kid in the 1950s and 1960s. Do you know how many kids I knew who played soccer?

None.

I did not know one kid who played the game and was never asked to play. There was a mysterious organization near where I grew up called the Beadling Soccer Club. But I didn’t know anybody who belonged to it, and it was probably considered a subversive organization by the adults in my life.

Of course, I didn’t know one kid who played hockey, either, and I didn’t learn to skate until I was in my mid-30s, but I love hockey.

Maybe it’s no more complicated than the fact that I don’t have any interest in seeing humans play with a ball without using their hands. I’d probably like the sport a lot more if it was OK to pick up the ball and run with it.

I never played rugby, but I enjoy watching it every once in a while.

The best description I’ve come across for soccer was in a piece written in 2009 by Wabash College philosophy professor Stephen H. Webb, who wrote, “Think of two posses pursuing their prey in opposite directions without bullets in their guns.”

Webb also struck a chord with me when he compared soccer to baseball. He feels, as do I, that soccer is taking the place of baseball for lots of kids because it’s so much easier to join a group of kids and chase a ball around than it is to learn how to catch, throw and hit a baseball. Then there is the unavoidable individual attention that comes with each at-bat.

“The spectacle of your failure was so public that it was like having all of your friends over to your home to watch your dad force you to eat your vegetables,” Webb wrote about baseball.

North American sports such as baseball, football, basketball and hockey seem to do a better job of toughening kids up with a lot less writhing.

I still don’t get the writhing.

There’s no right or wrong here. I hope not liking soccer doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s a matter of taste. And maybe I’ll try again in four years. Meanwhile, you and the three billion other people will have to try to enjoy the party without me.

• There is no better example of the stupid and corrupt things that government will do with other people’s money than when politicians partner with teams and/or sports promoters. The waste and corruption associated with the World Cup being in Brazil is of epic proportions and will probably only be surpassed by the Olympics going there in 2016.

• In almost every case of government waste and corruption associated with the awarding of major international sporting events, it was only made possible by massive media cheerleading.

The American media, however, seems a lot more willing to expose the corruption associated with the major international events than it has been with the corruption and waste associated with the use of taxpayer funding for stadiums and arenas in cities here.

Billions have been given to major professional sports teams over the last 25 or 30 years and that has been no less wasteful or corrupt. It just happened in smaller increments. You know, only $300 or $400 million at a time.

• Am I the only person in Western Pennsylvania who doesn’t think Le’Veon Bell should be anointed the Steelers’ No. 1 running back for this season? The Steelers signed well-traveled back LeGarrette Blount as a free agent and the consensus seems to be that he will make a nice supplemental/short yardage back.

The Steelers will be Blount’s fourth team in four years and that raises a boatload of questions, but nothing in his career suggests that he should be limited to a few carries a game.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The more carries he gets, the better he is. Blount has carried the ball 15 times or more in 15 games. In those games, he averaged 4.95 yards a carry. He averaged more than five yards a carry eight times and more than seven yards per carry three times. He averaged less than four yards a carry only three times in those 15 games.

Bell never averaged five yards a carry in a game last season. He carried the ball 15 times or more in 12 games. In four of those, he averaged less than three yards per carry.

None of this is to say Bell stinks or even that he shouldn’t be considered the No. 1 back going into training camp. It’s just that Blount’s numbers and his highlight reel say that it should be an open competition.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.