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Bill Nye calls deniers ‘unpatriotic’

Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ was on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show this past Wednesday, discussing the latest round of snowstorms and if climate change is responsible. Nye told Maddow that the people who are saying that the snowstorms around Washington D.C. disproves climate change are almost ‘unpatriotic’.

Nye also said that he felt from his experience that global warming denial could be attributed to generational factors, like his personal observations that older people have a much harder time grasping how billions of people could affect the thin atmosphere. He felt that younger generations are more accepting of this possibility.

Solar power incentives

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By Shannon Bell

Anyone who’s looked into installing solar panels for their home know that solar power for the entire home is very expensive. At minimum, most homeowners can expect to pay at least $15,000. At maximum, homeowners may pay as much as $45,000 or even $60,000 for a solar panel array that will power their entire home.

However, both federal and state tax credits aim to encourage homeowners to take on a solar project anyway. The federal government, according to the US Department of Energy, will kick in 30% of the cost for a solar project registered before December 31, 2016. A 30% tax break would bring the cost of a $15,000 solar project down to $10,500.

No scientist had email stolen from East Anglia!

Most people that read this site have likely heard of the emails that were stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU). I would like to offer a few of my thoughts on the subject.

First, catch the people responsible for breaking into the property of the University of East Anglia. Prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. I am not versed in the laws of the UK but I would assume that each document and email that was illegally stolen from those servers would be an individual count of theft, so the parties involved would be liable for several thousand counts of theft. No one should ever break the law to further their political interest (and remember there was nothing purely scientific in these emails – they are simply emails with opinions and, as such, are not facts). Breaking the law is simply not a way to discuss the scientific relevance of information. So just as I condemn Mr. Al Gore, former Vice President of the US, for suggesting civil disobedience, I condemn the stealing of information from the University.

Are the glaciers our fault?

I am often asked if the reduction of the size of glaciers is the fault of global warming. My standard answer is that I don’t know as the evidence is far from conclusive.

A case in point is a graph from the USGS fact sheet:

Two conclusions are fairly obvious from the above graph.  First, the size of glacier recession has been occurring almost since the time when we started measuring the size back in the late 50s.  The second is that the reduction seemed to increase rather rapidly in the late 80s and early 90s. If we draw a straight line to average the reduction from 1960 to 1975, we will see a totally different rate as compared to the line that averages 1980 to 2005.

Everyone Hates Ethanol

The use of biological processes to create energy for our cars is very suspect.  The current sources of ethanol compete with our food supply which only drives up the price of food which is an extreme burden on the ultra-poor.

While there is a lot of research on alternative sources of ethanol that would not compete with food, this research has yet to make it to development.  The Wall Street Journal put out a good article discussing this a few weeks ago so I thought I would share the highlights.  Click through here to read the entire article.

Scientists find bigger than expected polar ice melt

There is no question that our climate has changed slightly compared to 20 years ago.  Most of the data points to increases of temperature and the most significant (and obvious if you are in the Arctic) is the diminished amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean.  While there is some question as to the cause of this melting (see my ocean currents article), there is little question that it is occurring.

This article discusses some of the observations that scientists have seen regarding the ice melt and some possible repercussions.  The article is somewhat refreshing though in that it focuses on what can be observed rather than focusing on what might be causing the warming.  Since it was so evenly reported, I felt it was of significant interest to my readers.

Hundreds attend global warming protest – funny image

A little lightheated fun to start your weekend!  You should be able to see the full size image by right clicking below and selecting to view the image.

Is it too cold outside to have global warming?

There has been some talk in the press and on some of the blogs that it is too cold in the last couple years to have a global warming trend. Some even say that the warming trend is reversed and it is now going to get colder. There are a variety of people that discuss that the ice caps are re-freezing after having melted which signals that global warming is reversing. Some talk of a local low record that was set at some airport.

The reality is that much of this talk is about weather and not about climate. It is not possible to measure climate within a couple year span. It takes much longer than that to eliminate the various highs and lows from the trend so most climatologists suggest 5-10 years (or longer) before anything is really called climate.

Gore Delivers Remarks on Energy and the Climate

Washington Post – July 17, 2008

Mr. Al Gore recently gave a speech in Washington DC regarding energy.  While many in the blogosphere will call Mr. Gore “Pope Gore” and refer to environmentalists as a religion, in this case, I don’t think that Mr. Gore makes many of the outlandish comments which I have chastised him about. Most of his comments are regarding energy independence, the status of the technology of alternative fuels, and the balance of power.

He does make a few global warming references which are a little hard to defend. He implies that the fires in California are caused by manmade global warming – this is probably not true since California has been enjoying an unusually wet climate for several decades and it appears that this current drought is simply going back to status quo.

Glaciers on California’s Mt. Shasta keep growing

July 8, 2008 – USA Today

The reasons that a glacier grows or shrinks are not solely due to air temperature (regardless of what Mr. Gore implies).  This story in the USA Today is a prime example of proving this false.  Unfortunately, this mountain seems to be the only mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA that has growing glaciers.

Due to Mt. Shasta’s elevation and proximity to the Pacific ocean with its prevailing winds, the area is seeing an increase in precipitation in the form of snow.  This snow is forming glaciers.

This does not mean that global warming doesn’t cause glaciers to shrink!  This just means that the formation and the maintenance of glaciers is more complicated than just ambient temperature.