Curses! Fooled Again!

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of flood stays these scientists …

Um, no.

How, you might ask dear reader, do the scablands of eastern Washington relate to the Antarctic ice sheet?

Two stories from different centuries crossed my desk this morning. They don’t seem to be related but they do point us to a Truth.


Part I: Many scientists believe that Antarctica’s immense ice sheet is doomed. They have no doubt that Antarctica will melt into the sea.

That may not be entirely correct.

“A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.”

Really? NASA’s research challenges settled science of most other studies that show Antarctica is losing land ice at a mind-boggling rate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latched onto that factoid in their 2013 report without considering that it might not tell the whole story.

Now that the IPCC science is settled, no further reports are required.

In fact, the Washington Post last year opined that “A key climate change icon has reversed its warming trend, at least temporarily. … has been cooling, but that doesn’t disprove global warming…” (Jul 20, 2016)

There ya go. Since the net gain of Antarctic ice slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008, now we know why the global warming^H^H cooling^H^H climate change community can say Antarctica is melting.

Well, they can say that except for this little quibble about the facts.


Part II: Many geologists believed that the strange topography of eastern Washington State showed “geological change,” formed gradually and uniformly over thousands of years. They had no doubt.

The National Geographic reported about the Channeled Scablands, “The only possible explanation for the all the region’s features was a massive flood, perhaps the largest in the Earth’s history — ‘a debacle which swept the Columbia Plateau,’ ripping soil and rock from the landscape, carving canyons and cataracts in a matter of days. ‘All other hypotheses meet fatal objections,’ [Harley Bretz] wrote in a 1923 paper.”

The former high school teacher committed geological heresy.

The Horseshoe-Shaped Potholes Coulee along the Columbia RiverThe Flood-deniers, the geologists of the day. vehemently denied the Bretz theory. Dr. Bretz did thorough research including actually visiting the channeled scablands but the other geologists called his ideas not just “wholly inadequate” but “preposterous” and “incompetent.”

That’s a good story by itself.

But wait! There’s more!

The Geological Society of America did finally recognize Dr. Bretz’s theory. He received the Penrose Medal in 1979 but the story doesn’t end there.

Richard Waitt, a geologist with the USGS, explored the Walla Walla valley in southern Washington in 1977. He discovered that one of 40 sediment layers there contained ash from an eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

“I knew right away that there couldn’t have been just one flood,” Waitt said.

More than one flood? Why, that contradicts Dr. Bretz’s settled science!

When Mr. Waitt published his findings in 1980 that there had been at least 40 ice-age floods in the scablands, he faced such stiff resistance that he felt like Dr. Bretz himself. “Baker and his students were totally against it for years,” he said.


The science is settled, baby!

Oh. Wait…

As Glenn Hodges found in the National Geographic article, “Because scientists are first and foremost human beings, they’re loathe to change their theories or their minds because of mere data…”

 

The Science Isn’t Wrong

But it ain’t right, either. Mayday! Mayday!

“The science is fixed,” Science Friday host Ira Flatow keeps selling^H telling us.

In the “Robot Sadism” episode of Science Friday, associate producer Christie Taylor went to JPL to find out how to build a wheel that lasts.

In 2013, rover operators had noticed a gaping hole in Curiosity’s left front wheel as it moved across the Mars landscape. After some investigation, they realized “it wasn’t just one little mishap that caused a puncture or one particularly awful rock,” said engineer Patrick DeGrosse. “It was just the first symptom.”

Mr. DeGrosse is a member of the Tiger Team that tests copies of Curiosity’s wheels here on Earth.

Size of a Football Field on EarthIn the Mars Yard, a not-even-football field-sized test track in Pasadena, a test rover demonstrated whether the wheels slip or get bogged down or can climb a rock. (Do click the pic to see.) “Physics equations can’t tell you any of that,” Ms. Taylor said about the myriad of tiny interactions with the surface of Mars.

“You don’t sit down at your computer and draw up the complexity of sand grains and rocks and what all those friction coefficients are and how they tumble over each other when a wheel hits them. We’re just not at that stage yet,” Mr. DeGrosse said.

We’re not?

And yet, the science is fixed! We can map the earth and the GPS in our car will always direct us to the next location!

The science is fixed! We can cure the common cold!

The science is fixed! The sun’s corona is millions of degrees hotter than the surface and we don’t yet know why.

The science is fixed! 70-95% or humans are right-handed but we still cannot describe why we use one hand instead of the other.

The science is fixed! The planet Saturn has a massive, continuous hurricane up near the pole. Earth’s hurricanes are powered by warm ocean and wind down as they hit land or cold water. Saturn has no oceans and is really cold. Huh.

The science isn’t wrong. But the political and lay interpreters ain’t right, either.

And that’s the lesson for today.

 

Trump Budget Could Cut Climate Funding for NASA

or Where I Think Government Should Spend Our Money

Let’s get something straight.
Climate Change is real.
Political Science is fake.

“Aides to the US president-elect, Donald Trump, … unveiled plans to remove the budget for climate change science currently used by NASA and other US federal agencies for projects such as examining Arctic changes, and to spend it instead on space exploration,” the Guardian reported.

“Shoot the messenger?” one correspondent asked. “Trump is cutting NASA’s arctic research because the agency brings inconvenient news.”

It’s interesting news and I’m halfway to liking it.

I like funding more deep space exploration. That and the development of colonization technologies is where NASA should spend its money now. Let the Commercial Spaceflight Federation members do the near Earth orbit stuff. And, it sends a message to the scientific community that we won’t fund all the “me too” studies any more. That’s all to the good. Still, I don’t like losing the NASA satellites monitoring temperature, ice, clouds, and other meteorological phenomena because the data itself is crucial.

“Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.” Trump adviser Bob Walker said.

Yay!

Salon and other drum beaters call it “Politicizing climate change.”

Boo, hiss!

“Federal government scientists have been unnerved by Trump’s dismissal of climate science and are concerned that their work will be sidelined,” the Guardian reported.

Granted (heh), scientists who live from federal grant to federal grant like to know where their next meal will come from, but they make one important point.

NASA Launch from Cape CanaveralAnyone who has read history knows that the climate has changed many times in the last 4.543 billion years. Anyone who has read history knows that the climate changed a lot more before our first human ancestor developed speech and the ability to clear cut forests, a couple of million years ago. And, unfortunately, anyone who has read history knows that our climactic data from that time is woefully incomplete. We simply don’t have good, complete, contemporaneous data for planetary conditions two hundred years ago, let alone two million or two billion years ago.

Last week, we learned that “evidence suggests the Earth underwent an ice age so cold that ice sheets not only capped the polar latitudes, but may have extended all the way to sea level near the equator” around 700 million years ago but that during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum “the poles were free of ice caps, and palm trees and crocodiles lived above the Arctic Circle.”

We don’t have enough actual data from any of those times even to build trustworthy quantitative climate models.

That’s an inconvenient truth for the alarmists who have the hubris to sell you that the rising sea will cut off the land bridge across the modern day Bering Strait (but that their settled science will cure it if we humans just stop breathing, farting, heating, and start paying higher taxes).

Loss of contemporaneous data for planetary conditions today is also an inconvenient truth for the real scientists who know that having that data is the only way our human descendants two millennia from now will know what we experience today.

We need good data about today now and we will need that good data about today 200 years from now, too.

Where should our governments spend our money? Beyond the alphabetically obvious answer of public arts, public education, public infrastructure, and public security and social protection, man has some imperatives that are best handled together. Exploration tops the list.

Basic science and basic data gathering is one such area and is an arena that jumpstarts exploration as well as commercial applications. We don’t need a new detailed map of the human brain because brain mapping is already commercially viable and well funded by private business. We do need to cure cancer. The biomedical industrial complex treats profits from its high-budget care but has no financial incentive to find a cure. We don’t need to study the effects of cocaine on Japanese quail because that’s better done by the cartels. We do need to explore beyond the solar system and we do need to explore this little blue marble we live on.

Every program government funds can profit from the “commercialization” filter.

NASA has publicly archived all of its data received from spacecraft projects — that’s over 4TB of new earth science data every day. The available data includes the CEOS International Directory Network, Earth Plus, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), Gateway to Astronaut Photography, Global Change Master Directory, Global Imagery Browse Service (GIBS), Goddard Institute for Space Studies Earth/Climate Change Data, Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center, LandSat 7 Datasets, NASA Earth Observatory, NASA Earth Observations, NASA’s HEASARC Web-based Tools, Ocean Color, Physical Oceanography DAAC, USGS/NASA Landsat Data on New Earth Explorer, Visible Earth, and more.

Global meteorological data. NASA may not be the best agency to interpret the findings but it is still the best agency to ferret it out for us. Pretty soon, we should examine that data for commercialization but, for today, it fits the basic data gathering filter and we need NASA to continue to record and store it.

We need that data so a future generation of researchers and scientists, unencumbered by politics and newspaper punditry, can build climate models that actually work.

 

Uber Tides

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
–Warren Buffett

“Miami is going to flood tonight,” my alarmist friend Annabelle Proctor said. “It’s proof of Global Warming!” Ashley’s mother is a retired state employee and adjunct instructor with an undergraduate degree in dance from Bennington College and a graduate degree in Social Justice from Planet Marlboro, Vermont’s two most liberal and free-thinking schools.

And her consternation is partly accurate. The high tides this week are higher than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime! That means in forever!

Tides are interesting. A spring tide is a common historical term that has nothing to do with the Vernal season. “The term derives from the concept of the tide ‘springing forth.’ Spring tides occur twice each lunar month all year long without regard to the season. Neap tides, which also occur twice a month, happen when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.”

Supermoon 2016A spring tide conjoined with a Supermoon is worth writing home about. When a full moon is the closest it ever gets to Earth — at perigee — it seems bigger and brighter than usual. We’re seeing the biggest and brightest full moon since 1948.

Yeppers, must be Global Warming.

Lake Champlain water levels approached but didn’t quite hit a “record all time low.” The last time the water level was this low was over a century ago. That follows on the heels of a 100-year high set when Lake Champlain crested at 103.2′ in May, 2011, shattering the previous record high level in May of 1869

Contemporaneous quotes: “The lake is lower than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime!” “The lake is higher than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime! That means in forever!” Well, of course it is. Not many of us have been around for a century or more.

Yeppers, must be that Global Warming.

Yet another slow moving storm system is bringing rain, wind, and accumulating mountain snow to most of the Pacific Northwet and the northern Rockies for the first part of the week. And that eastern Cold Front that had mostly moved into the Atlantic has backed up a bit so it’s now curving from Lake Okeechobee up to a Low right over the Outer Banks. Lot of rain over eastern North Carolina right now. They need it.

And NOAA predicts minor coastal flooding of low-lying areas here in South Puffin.

* Coastal flooding…elevated saltwater levels tonight will result in nuisance tidal flooding of low-lying areas throughout the Florida Keys.
* Timing…saltwater levels will peak near the time of the higher high tide early tonight…and again at the next higher high tide mainly between 7 p.m. and midnight. Saltwater levels will likely remain elevated Monday through at least Thursday.
* Impacts…minor tidal flooding of low elevation streets and lots is likely. Some storm drains will overflow…and some docks and seawalls will be overtopped.

It was a cool 76°F with plenty of black bottomed clouds here in South Puffin this morning but the clouds have already burned off so it is mostly sunny now. Our sea walls are about five feet above sea level so I doubt they will be overtopped. Tomorrow’s rain may exacerbate it, so I figure the Inch Beach lawn will be awash again. It drains back very quickly and the grass is very salt tolerant.

The tide was very high when I shot the moon last night and it got my feet wet when I walked along the beach.

Yeppers, must be that oh-so-political Global Warming. Or maybe we should take a longer view than your lifetime or mine.

 

Climate Scientists, the Phrenologists of 2016

Sometimes I suffer from low blood pressure; I often use the Science Friday podcast to bring it back up to normal. [For the record, SWMBO says I use it to see if I can get the sphygmomanometer to pop the bulb at the top of the column.]

The bumps on my head don’t explain that, either.

Two ‘casts from December got my attention: Do Scientists Have the Duty to Speak Out? and Why Science Needs Failure to Succeed. Each focused on a new book:

In the first, Naomi Oreskes spreads more disinformation and name calling in the name of a (carbon) tax and “sensible regulations” than good science. Host Ira Flatow1 asks if the slogan, “If you see something, say something,” applies to scientists. “If they see a risk to the planet, for example, should they say something about it?” he wondered. In her book Merchants of Doubt,2 Ms. Oreskes “says some scientists undersell the conclusions of their work, and this ‘scientific conservatism has led to under-estimation of climate-related changes’.”

Underestimation?

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Al Gore said, underestimating the issue and the wealth to be looted.

The very same day, Mr. Flatow interviewed Stuart Firestein about his new book, Failure: Why Science Is So Successful,3 the neuroscientist “makes a case for science as ‘less of an edifice built on great and imponderable pillars, and more as a quite normal human activity’.” His point “one must try to fail” reminds us that “real science is a revision in progress, always. It proceeds in fits and starts of ignorance.”

The political scientists leading the AGW charge will not admit contrary data.

Phrenologists thought their science was immutable, too.

Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
— Ambrose Bierce
Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
— Isaac Asimov
In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
— Carl Sagan

In 2014’s We Only Have 500 Days Left to Avoid Climate Chaos! I discussed the fact that climate “science” today is a Harris poll and the way the Far Green consortium has distorted real science with their religious insistence that their science is right and fixed. Their purpose is to keep the Green flowing. The green research dollars. The green investment dollars. The green tax dollars.

Science requires a comfort with being wrong, a tolerance for failure, Mr. Firestein reminded us. But political Climate Scientists have a bible that cannot fail and is never contradictable.

And that, dear friends, is why our political Climate Scientists are the Phrenologists of the 21st Century.


1 Mr. Flatow is well-known for his statement that “the science is fixed” over all anthropogenic global warming.
2 Ms. Oreskes received her Bachelor of Science in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of Imperial College, University of London and earned her PhD from the Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford. She is the author of or has contributed to a number of respected essays and technical reports in economic geology.
3 Stuart J. Firestein, PhD, chairs the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University where his lab researches the vertebrate olfactory receptor neuron and where he teaches neuroscience. He does accept AGW but recognizes that “uncertainty is a dirty word” in the argument.