The World Bank isn't known historically as an environmentally friendly institution in terms of the sorts of development projects it has funded. So when the World Bank gets concerned about the possible affects of global warming perhaps even the skeptics ought to pay attention.
Check out the World Bank's climate change site here: http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century
If you are up, one of the most important space exploration events is happening now through early Monday morning (August 6), the landing of Curiosity. Media coverage is pretty spotty. Fortunately there is NASA TV for us night owls. http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
CNN is covering this at least on line but they are getting their feed from NASA, so go right to the source.
Update! Curiosity has landed..first photos.
You may not realize it but we are getting a good lesson about the way science works, or at least should work. The lesson involves an independent study of planetary temperature data designed to examine some of the global warming skeptic's concerns about the nature of the data used in previous studies on climate change. The new study was conducted by a group of scientists involved in a project called BEST- the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study.
Some of the study's conclusions include the following:
- The heat island effect in urban areas is not biasing the estimates of land surface temperature.
- Poor quality weather stations are also not biasing the global estimates of land surface temperature.
- Adding more temperature data gives results that are consistent with those in previous studies.
- The best fit to to the data-(BEST did not use traditional climate models but a correlational approach) are a model that combines volcanic activity (the effect by the way is to cool climate) and carbon dioxide concentration. Variation in solar input is NOT an explanatory factor in current climate trends.
The BEST group has submitted their analysis and results for publication and what is really admirable have opened up their data sets and analytical methods to public scrutiny. The study by the way was funded in part by the Charles Koch foundation.
Now it easy to say well we knew a lot of this stuff from current work-but an important aspect of science is the confirmatory aspect of science- it's what should enable us to gain confidence in our ideas-while others fall by the way side as not tenable. I don't expect these results to convince every one and they may also be flawed in ways that aren't immediately obvious. But maybe they will nudge the scientific and political debate to where we can have a serious talk about how to deal with global warming.
The BEST Website is at http://berkeleyearth.org/
There is also an interesting commentary from the study's principle investigator who has changed his mind and global warming and it's causes based on the results of the study.
Several people have reported seeing these wonderful insects over the last couple of days. These are sometimes called velvet ants. They are not ants but mutillid wasps. The females are wingless and usually brightly colored-orange or orange and black, though a few are grey. The males are winged. The females are enter the burrows of ground nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on or near the larvae of their host. The eggs hatch and the Mutlillid larvae feed on the host's larvae.
Mutillids can pack a powerful sting-especially the one pictured here. That probably is the origin of the other common name as a figure of speech- "Cow Killer." The females are extremely active and never seem to stop moving so it is difficult to get a decent picture of them. Fortunately I had a plastic lid to a lens filter handy and was able to trap this one long enough to get a good shot.
Locally Westar has introduced Smart Grid technologies that are billed as helping individuals track and manage their power usage and also help the power company manage its load. Does this technology, though pose a threat to civil liberties in ways we haven't thought about yet? I don't know... but a cousin in Canada sent this link to me from a Canadian Libertarian think tank...not a site I would normally visit...but it does provide an interesting take on the new smart grid technologies.
For the record, neither my cousin or I use old style incandescent bulbs and personally I like my smart meter. So check the article out. What do you think? Are these fears real or vastly overblown?
There has been a lot in the news about the great drought of 2012 and what the high temperatures might be telling us about what is happening to climate. So rather that rely on "some people say" as a source, I decided to check climate data from NOAA to get some perspective on the situation. NOAA has a great time series of statewide data for important weather parameters including average temperatures, precipitation and several measures of drought severity.
First of all how does 2012 stack up so far temperature wise for Kansas?
My firs NOAA data plot shows June's historical temperature data just by itself:
Notice that June just by itself really isn't so extreme historically. But my impression as a biologist who spends a lot of time doors, is that this year HAS been abnormally warm so lets look at year to date historical data shown in my next plot:
This shows a quite different story. As you can see the year to date temperature through June is very extreme. The year to data average temperature for the state is 55 degrees F. The next closest year to date average for Kansas appears to be 1986 at 54 degrees F. Going back to the 1930's, 1934 is the dust bowl year that comes closest at 53 degrees F. So temperature wise- so far this year is historically abnormal. However many of the record highs of the 1930's still stand.
Another concern is of course the several drought and NOAA provides several drought indices. Not being familiar with how these indices relate to each other I chose just to plot the basic Palmer Drought Severity index which uses local temperature and precipitation data to provide an index of drought severity that can be used to examine historical data: Negative values of the index represent more severe local drought conditions.
Notice that 2012 does not even come close in severity to the earlier droughts, including some relatively recent droughts of the 1980's. What is interesting is that the Palmer index suggests that the drought of the mid 1950's was in some respects more intense than the drought of the 1930's.
So the data suggest that yes it has been really abnormally warm so far in 2012. On the other hand the Palmer data suggest that the current drought is not (At least through June) as severe as a number of other droughts we have had.
One problem we have of course looking at historical data is that agricultural practices have changed since the 1930's. Much of the marginal land that was farmed then is not farmed now or is farmed using large scale irrigation. Farmers today tend to use tillage and other conservation practices that that probably are moderating local temperature and precipitation to some degree compared to earlier years. This might explain the greater number of extreme highs during the 1930's when conservation practices were not as widespread.
If you want to have your own fun looking at climate data, check out the NOAA site at:
There is a pull menu where you can select your state or region. You can also filter the data in various ways. This is a good way to check one's perceptions of climate change against historical data so you won't have to rely on what "some people say" or the infamous "they say" as a data source!
A link the drought indices is here: http://www.drought.noaa.gov/palmer.html
If you are into looking at extremes in terms of temperature and precipitation weather underground has a link to climate data. Go to www.wunderground.com and select the climate tab. Have fun!
As most people know the Heartland Institute is staffed and backed by people who are to put it mildly, skeptical about global warming and our species role in climate change. The other month a climate activist admitted getting access to the Institute's e-mails by posing as an Institute board member. The Heartland Institute in response has decided to shoot itself in the foot with an "experimental" set of billboards comparing climate scientists to the Unibomber and other assorted terrorists.
Well the blowback was immediate and the H.I. took down the billboards after even some of their own supporters including insurance companies objected to the campaign. See this article from the Washington Post for details.
A visit to the Institute Website reveals this interesting comment:
Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world’s most notorious criminals say they “still believe in global warming” – and ask viewers if they do, too. The first digital billboard – along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) in Maywood – appeared today.
Really, granted there are extremists on both sides of this issue, but I wonder where the H.I. got their data about the beliefs of the world's most notorious criminals. If their opponents do stoop to name calling...do two wrongs make a right?
This is a prickly pear cactus from my garden. It is in a pot but I leave it out all winter since it is supposed to be hardy here in Kansas. Of course with this mild winter and the steady movement north of the hardiness zones due to climate change, the plant certainly was not challenged by this last winter.
Went to Clinton Lake today to take pictures and enjoy this nice Spring(?) weather. I am going to be really interested in the state March average temperature data. Looks like this month could be a hundred year event. Here is a brief slide show of my pictures from today: