Friday, November 10, 2017

Tom's Trick Works and Things Are Worse Than They Seem

Some time ago Eli referred to the US Climate Reference Network as Tom Karl's Trick in that it offered an elegant way of evaluating the data and homogenization of the US Historical Climate Network and by extension the global networks of climate stations

 Its primary goal is to provide future long-term homogeneous observations of temperature and precipitation that can be coupled to long-term historical observations for the detection and attribution of present and future climate change. Data from the USCRN will be used in operational climate monitoring activities and for placing current climate anomalies into an historical perspective. The USCRN will also provide the United States with a reference network that meets the requirements of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
The Bunny's take on this was here is a sensible way of checking the accuracy of older climate networks in the past and calibrating them in the future.  But there was a point that was missed, perhaps even by the designers.  They sensible paired USCRN stations with USHCN ones for evaluation.  Because of this it was implicit in the design that significantly less than the generic 30 climate data evaluation period would be needed to draw conclusions, and that those conclusions would extend back over the entire USHCN period.

Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, Matthew J. Menne, and Claude N. Williams, Jr published a short paper on this, Evaluating the impact of U.S. Historical ClimatologyNetwork homogenization using the U.S. Climate Reference Network (open version) where they showed that the USHCN, the historical network, slightly UNDERESTIMATES the warming trend as measured by the USCRN, the optimal network, especially for maximum daily temperatures

Their conclusion was understated, as one would expect
During the period of overlap between the USHCN and USCRN networks, we can confidently conclude that the adjustments to the USHCN station records made them more similar to proximate homogenous USCRN station records, both in terms of trends and anomalies. There are no systematic trend biases introduced by adjustments during this period; if anything adjusted USHCN stations still underestimate maximum (and mean) temperature trends relative to USCRN stations. This residual maximum temperature bias warrants additional research to determine the exact cause.
 The paper also shows that homogenization narrows the distribution of raw data from USHCN stations while leaving the means unchanged which pretty much kills the loud claims of fake data from the peanuts' gallery, but the systematic difference between the USCRN and USHCN warrants further study and a bit more worry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Manufactured Russia scandal is a nothing burger

My distinguished colleagues on this site, Eli Rabbet and Brian, are convinced that the ruling-class media (NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC) is hot on the trail of a major scandal. According to the mainstream media, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to smear Hillary Clinton’s campaign and allow Trump to win.

I respectfully dissent.

Allegation: A server holding a large collection of emails by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by the Russians, which then leaked the emails to the US media, to the great embarrassment of the DNC and Hilary’s campaign.

Rebuttal: A group of retired spooks, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has performed forensic investigations of the metadata. The VIPS determined the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceed an internet capacity for a remote hack. Forensics also shows that the copying was performed on the East coast of the US.

I readily admit that I have no expertise in this area. But the VIPS do have such expertise. I have not seen any coverage by the MSNBC, the NYTimes, or the Washington Post that addresses the claims made by the VIPS. Instead, the Establishment aims to drown out the opposition by dint of constant repetition. The summary of the VIPS study, entitled

Was the Russian Hack an Inside Job?

can be found at

Allegation: Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to subvert the democratic election.

Rebuttal: A recent book on the 2016 election, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. In the book’s final pages, the authors describe the utter shock experienced by the top campaigners, who never dreamed that Hillary could lose the election. At the same time, the top campaigners were staggered by the unflattering revelations of the leaked DNC emails. Allen and Barnes describe how Hillary successfully changed the subject: Instead of inquiring into the content of the emails, Hillary staffers asked, WHO hacked the DNC server. The answer of the Hillary campaign? Russians hacked the emails.

See link at

Gary Leupp, history professor at Tufts University, does not agree with the official line that

“Russia had rigged the election by providing stolen DNC emails to Wikileaks, using them to discredit Hillary. (It’s rarely mentioned how, precisely, they had done that, by showing that the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders.)”

See link at

Journalist Chris Floyd scoff at the anti-Russian hysteria.

Floyd has actually looked at some of the online advertisements that the Russian government (supposedly) bought.

“What did we see? Hillary Clinton in a devil costume boxing with Jesus. A Clinton-backing Satan arm-wrestling with Jesus. Pro-gun memes. Anti-immigrant memes. Memes about military-hating Democrats. Basically, the same sort of things your cranky uncle or Foxicated cousin has been sending around on email for the past 20 years. The idea that someone could be dissuaded from voting for Hillary Clinton because of something like this is absurd.” See link at

Consider the careful work by the journalist Robert Parry, cited by Norman Solomon.

Stripping the 25-page DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report down to its essence, Parry pointed out that it “contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.” Parry added: “The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information — built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump. But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof.”

Solomon concludes that Democrats are playing with fire.

See link at

Aaron Mate writes in the Oct 6, 2017 issue of The Nation magazine that

Russiagate is More Fiction than Fact

From accusations of Trump campaign collusion to Russian Facebook ad buys, the media has substituted hype for evidence, Mate writes.

“Since Election Day, the controversy over alleged Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion has consumed Washington and the national media. Yet nearly one year later there is still no concrete evidence of its central allegations.”

See link at

Journalist Max Blumenthal addresses a headline in The Washington Post on Sunday Nov 5, 2017. The scare headline reads

At least nine people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition

Wow! Pretty scary! Until Max Blumenthal puts it in perspective.

“Many of these forbidden contacts consisted of meetings with Russian diplomats.”

The Wa Po story authored by Rosalind S. Heiderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig

Blumenthal goes on to comment sarcastically “Diplomacy must cede to brinksmanship if not all out war.”

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Green Plate Challenge

Izen has turned the Green Plate Effect and his animation into a video just in time for the bunnies to show it to their uncles at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Copy this onto your smart phone for future use

and Science of Doom has issued a challenge to the back radiation deniers.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Lysistrata Solution - Do not cite, do not quote, do not review

The latest is that Mark Jacobson has filed a lawsuit against the National Academy of Sciences, the Proceedings of same and Christopher Clack for badmouthing, mopery and no takebacks.  There are important issues at play, for example, can renewable energy get to 100% of what is needed (Jacobson) or only 80% (Clack) without nuclear, and a lot of talmudic stuff about how to interpret what was written by the various parties to justify their positions and whether the other parties interpreted what the parties of the first wrote correctly or cherry picked with malice and aforethought.

These are policy driving questions but both sides advocate strong and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions starting twenty years ago and certainly now.

What is also clear is that Jacobson in filing this suit has pushed the norms out the Overton window in a way that could quickly lead to no good things and that many are concerned.

Eli, in his usual way has a simple solution.  Those who are troubled, indeed angered by this suit have a simple way of making their concern clear.

Publicly tell Mark Jacobson that they will no longer cite, quote or review his papers and grant proposals until the suit is withdrawn.

Beyond this it may be necessary to ask editors and program managers not to send their work to Jacobson for evaluation and review.

Oh yes, one other tell in this whole mess is the addendum to the initial order summoning the parties attached by the Chief Judge Robert Morin of the DC Court which makes the suit subject to the DC Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act

After an action is filed in the court against a healthcare provider alleging medical malpractice, the court shall require the parties to enter into mediation without discovery or, if all parties agree with only limited discovery which shall not interfere with the completion of mediation within 30 days of the Initial Scheduling and Settlement Conference (ISSC) prior to any further litigation in an effort to reach a settlement agreement.
A report has to be filed ten days after the mediation session.  Eli is holding tryouts for the mediator position.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eli Takes a Bow

While Eli is not the world's most accurate news source, allow the Bunny to take a bow.  Back in July 2016 the observant readers read

. . . . . .

These questions include why the US Congress is not mounting a full bore investigation into why the Russians are "helping" Mr. Trump out.  There is a good argument that without Russian money Trump is flat broke and two of the advisors closest to him, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are mobbed up with Putin.  Eli uses the term mobbed up with intent.  Russia is not an autocracy, it is a kleptocracy.

Ms Rabett, who has some experience in such matters on the compliance side of the fence, points out that money laundering violations define the expensive real estate market in places like NY and SF, as brokers have accept money from peculiar sources.  It is certain that the Trump Organization has accepted the money.  What is not certain until law enforcement serves papers, is whether they did their due diligence and reporting.  Eli suspects not, and if systematically done, which Eli suspects so, that is a RICO violation.

Eli must also ask whether Wikileaks is a front for Russian intelligence. Julian Assange more or less admitted that with the usual, you can't prove it That puts a different twist on a whole bunch of things they have done in the last five years.  Or perhaps they are just stooges for the Russians, sort of like the dead end Bernie Bros.

This story is moving fast and the reaction of the Benghazi crazed Republicans in the US Congress will provide some interesting tales.  For example, Trump has conceded that his Russian "friends" were behind the hack.

Dear Lord.
. . . . . . .

Rabett Run where you read it before it happens

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Electric Buses Charging Ahead

Nice article by David Roberts on electric buses. A similar range of opinion that we see on passenger EVs - they're coming, and someday they'll take over, but medium terms predictions are all over the map.

Roberts is on the bullish end, saying electric will dominate by 2030. I agree with the fact that in the US, federal support for capital costs shifts the incentives strongly to cheap O&M for local governments, and that's where electric shines. Why should they buy non-electric?

I can give one reason - when I was on the board of a water district, I pushed for an internal EV mandate. Our O&M staff pushed back, saying our service bay already was too small and they couldn't service two types of vehicles (I think they've since added them). So inertia is a problem.

Roberts is putting a lot of his optimistic eggs in a single basket, the Proterra electric bus maker. Let's hope they and their competitors succeed in a revolution, but it's still early days.

My guess is that Roberts is likely right. Financial incentives and pollution incentives are strong. I think Roberts also underplayed the convenience factor. EV buses have more torque, so you can redesign and accelerate your routes and get your passengers to destinations faster, especially hilly routes or ones with lots of stops - but only if all the buses on the route are electric. Cities will be incentivized to switch to all-EV buses.

An early test of these predictions is whether bus manufacturers slow down on the R&D for ICE buses. We should see that in less than 10 years if EV buses really are going to be predominant-to-exclusive by 2030.

On a personal note, my wife and I are very slowly getting more used to buses. Going down to one car between us is a good incentive. The train is great, but I still tend to put my bike on the train or use GoBike rather than find a bus at the end of the train route. Despite that, there's a great bus route to San Francisco Airport that's far more convenient and cheaper than parking a car there, and another along the main drag here in San Mateo County that's also pretty good for shorter trips. Maybe faster EV buses would get us onboard more.

Here ya go Brian.  Already in service in Krakow Poland Solaris Urbino 8.9.  100 km range, 4 hour charge time - Eli

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why the Green Plate Effect Has Had an Effect

The Green Plate Effect (GPE) post is a gedanken experiment posed by your friendly bunny, which uses simplifications to think through the consequences of a proposition.  The proposition is that as several  have claimed, that the Greenhouse Effect (GHE) violates the second law of thermodynamics.

Discussion of the GPE has occupied more that a few places, including Rabett Run, Roy Spencer's bodega, and the Dragons Lair (be sure to wear protection when going there or better yet do not), but contrary to the Weasel, there does seem to have been an effect.  (BTW he has been tossed out of his condo and retreated to the original hovel)

The GPE post drove home two ideas:

1.  The GHE is not a statement about two bodies, a hot and a cold one, e.g. the surface and the atmosphere, but a statement about three bodies, a heat source, the absorber of energy from the heat source and the thermal shield, In the GPE these are the illumination source, the blue plate and the green plate. 

This idealization can be extended to the sun, surface atmosphere system at the cost of mathematical complication involving things such as geometry, viewing angles, emissivity, thermal conductivity, diurnal cycles, etc.

Were bunnies to go acaveating it might be mentioned that the blue plate would cool more quickly in the absence of the green plate when the light was turned off.  This, happens in real life.  Night time temperatures fall much more quickly in the desert than in Mississippi and yes, Betty, water vapor does absorb IR emissions from the surface and yes, something is needed to heat the surface first.

2.  Simple analysis shows that in the GPE the presence of the green plate makes the blue plate hotter.

The myriad attempts, some here, some there, involve changing the problem to something else or they break down into first or second law contradictions or they tie themselves up into algebraic knots.  Mathocists are invited to look at the comments at RR, Dr. Roys, or Postma's Pablum Palace.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The New Merry Minuet

In Eli's dotage the need to crouch under a young bunny's desk waiting for the nuclear end has returned.  While this never was much more than a hope, waking up every morning wondering whether one has indeed done so is not much fun.

Their was a song which captured this back in the day

But it needs updating, a task that Eli has taken on

They're rioting in Charlottsville
They're starving in San Juan
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Houston has floods

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
Bannon hates McConnell, Burmese hate Rohingyas
Suni hate the Shia, Brexiters hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much!!

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For Trump's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
The asshole will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!

They're rioting in Charlottsville
There's strife in Iraq
What nature doesn't so to us
Will be done by the Republicans

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New York Times misleads on Germany's "huge" investments in renewable energy

The NY Times ran a piece on Saturday Oct 7 by reporter Stanley Reed, headlined

Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments

The reporter is puzzled about the failure of Germany to reduce carbon dioxide emissions below the levels that obtained in 2009.

In the last decade or so, Germany has subsidized solar panels and wind turbines. The total bill since 2000 is 189 billion euros or $222 billion. At first glance, it looks like a huge investment. but to put that amount in perspective, realize that Germany has a population of 82 million. The annual per capita cost is…

(cue the sound effects as I reach for my calculator) $222 billion/(82 million X 17 years a mere $159 per person per year. Mathematically, the average German citizen pays $159 per year, or $13.25 a month or 44 cents a day. That doesn’t sound like “huge” investments.

Another calculation is to consider the German GDP which is $3.5 trillion. Divide by 82 million people to get the per capita GDP of $3.5 trillion/82 million = $43 thousand.

The annual per capita renewable subsidy as a fraction of the GDP is $159/$43,000 = 0.004, so the allegedly “huge” investments are 0.4% of the GDP.

Either way, the investments are not huge.

Reed quotes one 27-year old student who voted for the far-right “Alternative for Germany” party, who says that his family pays an additional 800 Euros ($936) every year for subsidies for the energy policy. (This number is in agreement with the calculation above if the student’s family has 6 members because 936/159 = 5.9). We don’t know the size of the student’s family, or whether or not that individual is typical.

In addition, not everybody pays taxes at the same rate. Germany has a lot of wealthy people with a strong aversion to paying taxes, who often succeed in shoving off the tax burden onto everybody else. Back in the USA, the hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley famously proclaimed that “only little people pay taxes” and she was accurate. Warren Buffett has remarked that his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does.
To return to the NYT article….

It’s no great mystery why the carbon dioxide emissions have not decreased, Reed has answered the question in his article. Germany’s energy plan is not to phase out coal, but to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Nuclear power plants have very low carbon dioxide emissions, so closing nuclear power plants has meant that Germany has become “more reliant on its sizable fleet of coal-fired power stations, which account for the bulk of emissions from electricity generation.” (as Reed states)
In short, the decision to phase out nuclear power by itself would have caused carbon dioxide emissions to increase. Germany’s investments in wind turbines and solar panels have prevented the total carbon dioxide emissions from rising, but they have not been enough to cause emissions to decrease.

While the costs of the subsidies to wind power and solar panels do not seem “huge”, they may have run up against up a limit of political tolerance, given the lopsided distribution of income in Germany and the opposition of wealthy Germans to paying their fair share of taxes.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Killer Rabett of Caerbannog Has a Chew on Steve (Tony Heller) Goddard

Eli's friend, the Killer Rabett of Caerbannog noticed Eli's comment on Steve Tony Goddard's sense of misdirection, and had a few words on the Twitter.  There were more that a few clues to Steve Tony's methods and materials which, both of us agree, are worthy of gathering in one place for future use with a few expansions of Twitterisms and such.  Rabett of caerbannog T-shirts available at Shirtoid

In response to the usual cherry, pick with a topping of political agenda, Caerbannog. . . well let Eli go to the Twitter

Here, says Caerbannog pointing to Eli, is proof that Goddard aka Heller is a tinfoil-hat-wearing nutter

What else can be said about someone who works a construction project into a grand global conspiracy to manipulate temperatures? He's *nuts*.

As for the content of the message? I've addressed data adjustment issues many times here, but you fail to understand.

  • I have shown many times that adjustments are required to correct for the effects of station moves (i.e. 100s from city centers to airports). 
  • I have pointed you to information about data adjustmnts, including links to NOAA's adjustment package that includes all code
  • *and* full instructions on how to build/run it. The NOAA package includes a complete test-suite to make it easier for others to verify....
Bottom line -- when I post substance, you completely ignore it and blow it off.

Recap for others here: Heller focuses on USHCN instead of GHCN because USHCN covers only about 1.5% of the Earth's surface area. As a result, short term temp swings (aka "noise") are  highly correlated over temp stations. When averaged together, this results in less "noise cancellation".

That means a lower "warming" SNR. The US-only temperature trend is just emerging. A small local trend means adjustments can change slight cooling to slight warming. Also, there is more likely to be a temperature bias for localized regions, where many temperature stations may have had similar changes in equipment and procedures.

It turns out that for USHCN as well as GHCN, many stations were moved from city centers to airports. Many airport stations have data from before 1900.

When you see airport stations with data going back before there were airplanes, what does that tell you about those stations? Think hard.

Also warming has not been uniform over the continental USA. The West has warmed more than the South. That means area weighting is important.

Overall station density a bit less in the West than in other regions. So without area-weighting, the area with the most warming is underrepresented.

The problem can be worsened if you select a subset of stations. You must ensure reasonably uniform geographic weighting in your averaging. This is especially true if the warming is fairly weak relative to the year-to-year variation. This will often be true for small regions.

USHCN, because it covers only 1.5% of Earth area with annual temp variations large relative to warming, gives Heller opportunities to mislead. If Heller were to look at GHCN, where coverage is global and the warming trend is much larger than global year-to-year variations he wouldn't have any "wiggle room" to spin results and make accusations. The global temperature trend is huge relative to the noise and huge relative to adjustments.

That's why Heller won't touch GHCN. The warming signal to noise ratio for the entire Earth is much stronger than the warming signal to noise ratio for just the USA.

There's no way that Heller could "cherry pick" the GHCN warming trend away. The warming signal too strong. So Heller will never touch GHCN.

So Heller will never touch GHCN. That is, Heller will *never* show adjusted vs. unadjusted *global* temp averages from GHCN data. The results would destroy his message.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Green Plate Effect

An evergreen of denial is that a colder object can never make a warmer object hotter.  That's the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so according to the Agendaists, the Greenhouse Effect, with greenhouse gases playing the role of the colder object, is rubbish.  They neglect the fact that heating and cooling are dynamic processes and thermodynamics is not.

Eli, of course, is a dynamic bunny and knows how to add and subtract. Divide is also possible.  What is happening is that one does not have just a hot body and a cold body, but a really hot body, the sun, constantly heating a colder (much), but still warm body the Earth, which then radiates the same amount of energy to space.

In elevator speak, Tyndall put it

[T]he atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet.
Eli had a different but not as elegant elevator tweet

Today on twitter, Eli stepped through the simple math and he thought it would be a good thing to put the thread on this blog for future reference.  We start with a simple case, imagine the Earth is just a plate in space with sunlight shining on it.   Maybe 400 W/m^2

The sun warms the plate, but as the plate warms it radiates until the radiated heat matches the heat being absorbed from the sun

Using the Stefan Boltzman Law you can calculate the temperature of the plate when it reaches equilibrium (400 W/m2) = 2 σ Teq4   where  σ is the Stefan Boltzmann constant 5.67 x 10-8 W/(m2 K4), factor of 2 for a two sided plate per m2. Run the numbers Teq=244 K.

Now lets add another plate. We'll color this plate green for greenhouse. It is heated by the first at a rate of 200 W/m2

But after a while, it too has to heat up and reach an equilibrium temperature. . . so as a first guess something like

That's wrong though because there are 400 W/m^2 going into the two plate system and 300 coming out.  At equilibrium an equal amount of energy has to be going in as coming out  So what happens??

The entire system has to heat up to reach the equilibrium condition.  T1 and T2 are the equilibrium temps of the plates.

Looking at the two plate system, the energy going in is 400  W/m2 and the energy going out is  σT14 +  σT24    Since these will be equal at equilibrium

400  W/m2  = σ T14 +  σ T24 

And there also has to be an equilibrium for the energy going in and out of the green plate

σ T14 =  2 σ T24

The bunnies can rearrange the second equation to get

σ T24 =  1/2 σ T14

and substitute for σ T2 back into the first equation 

400  W/m2  = σ T14 +  1/2 σ T14
400  W/m2  = 3/2 σ T14 

Solving for T1 the answer is T1 = 262 K.

Without the greenhouse plate it was 244 K.  

Introduction of the second plate raised the equilibrium temperature of the first by 18 K. 

The Green Plate Effect

Show this to the next fool with an agenda who thinks that the Green Plate Effect violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Steve Goddard Needs to Visit Suburban Washington

The unwary amongst the bunnies might, given provocation, search Beltsville Laurel USHCN.  Were a bunny so foolish the bunny would quickly run into some spit flecked harumphing from Steve Goddard, aka Tony Heller, or visa versa.  Unlike Eli Steve Tony can't keep his selfs strait, but no, never mind.  The title of the piece is Extreme UHI fraud at NOAA and, like most of Willard Tony's dastardly discoveries, the answer is nu?. (By the way, Surface Stations could use a spring cleaning).

Eli became aware of this via some of the usual agendaists** who pointed to it as evidence of perfidy but since the Rabett lives only a few miles away from the locale of extreme UHI fraud, he though he would actually take a bit of a closer look

Steve Tony's claim has two parts.  First that NOAA closed a perfectly good long running station in Laurel Maryland.  Laurel is roughly half way between Baltimore and DC, about 20 miles from each. As an older suburban area, it is pretty well developed.

NOAA has 16 USHCN stations in Maryland, but they have stopped collecting data from all but four of them. One of the disappearing stations is at Laurel, which has been collecting since 1895 – but no data reported since August 2015. 
The really interesting thing about this is that down in the comments, Mark Albright pointed out that
The Laurel USHCN station was closed in August 2015. According to the Historical Observing Metadata Repository (HOMR) the reason for closing Laurel 3 W was due to construction at the site:

However, no agendaist** took notice of this.  The construction was a large shopping center to the north and work in the highway interchange surrounding the site.  Blowing the picture up shows a bunch of serious power lines going through the top end and pictures from Google Maps in 2012 show serious earth movers pushing stuff around in the interchange

The USHCN station was over to the left (west) side of the D interchange.

So what about Greenbelt.  Well what does Steve Tony have to say about that
Beltsville (at I-95 and The Beltway) is five miles closer to Washington DC and shows two degrees warming during that period as the city has expanded. Beltsville is one of the four stations still reporting.
and he shows a map

with a red dot right on I-95 where Beltsville is.  However, as anybunny who lives in the DC area knows, that is not I-95, but US 1.  And, again, as DC folk know, Beltsville is where the USDA has its experimental farms.  The Beltsville station has moved about.  There have been nine locations on the various farms, starting to the east of US 1 in 1931 and now sitting to the west (nearer to 95, but not nearly as close as the Laurel site was right in an interchange.

The dot shows the current location.  The metadata shows that the station has always been located on farmland.

So much for Steve Tony.

 ** New Rabett Run name for those who deny global warming to advance a political agenda.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Noted for the Record

By way of Marc Morano

On a more serious note the discussion about sea level rise making it necessary to abandon Pacific Islands may have been less pressing than one about continued settlement on islands exposed to tropical cyclones.  Barbuda has been abandoned at least temporarily.  Other islands in the Leewards are, well not so well off, and the US and British Virgin Islands have been hit as hard as Puerto Rico. At what point does it become necessary to abandon smaller Caribbean islands like Barbuda, at what time to abandon Puerto Rico?

Would another hurricane season such as this in the next 10 years make rebuilding impossible.  What level of rebuilding would be necessary to shelter the island population from continued tropical cyclone threats.

PBS has a list of places to donate to for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  Eli would be happy to post other suggestions for other island hit by the storms

Another tidbit

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In memorium Andy Skuce July 22, 1954 - September 14, 2017

Andy Skuce is dead. 

An important and appreciated member of the Skeptical Science team.  A gentleman none would speak ill of ever.  Honored by even those who he argued against.  Born in England Andy was Canadian, in his words, "a recovering oilman".  Andy was always here to help.

Skeptical Science has posted a memorial at their web site.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Economics says time to shut down some coal plants (even ignoring externalities)

From Think Progress (originally from paywalled Moodys):

Sadly the graph isn't global, it's for the 15 US states with the best wind resources. But for those states it's saying that the cost of just operating and fueling coal plants exceeds the cost for wind power of constructing, operating, and (heh) fueling.

Imagine a utility that recently commissioned a coal plant and sold long term bonds to finance it. The utility would need to charge $39/MWhr plus the cost of paying off the bonds, let's say another $6/MWhr (for this exercise, the bond payment amount doesn't matter). That utility could shut down the coal plant, build wind instead, pay off the stranded cost bond for constructing the coal plant and still charge much less than it would cost to keep operating coal.

Moodys predicts early retirement of coal plants as a result. Looking to see it happen soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Horseshoes and Hurricanes

Several folk - half the world to be precise- have been going too and fro about the role that climate change has played in the latest weather catastrophes.  Eli had a say yesterday, and some of the Friends of the Bunny chimed in.  Perhaps Izen had the best tweet comment about cause and effect

To stretch the metaphor, many things can light a fire, but the size depends on how big the pile of fuel it can burn.
and Bernard J pointed out that the nature of the beast of chance is that when the statistics become strong enough so a single event can be unequivocally attributed to the changes we are making in the atmosphere, oceans and soil, then it is already too late and a considerable amount of pain has already been absorbed with more and worse to follow.  It may not be a good idea to be living on such a planet.

This, of course, raises the question of the skill in hurricane track forecasting  A difference of 70 km or so yesterday saved Miami and by an even smaller margin Tampa.  Others may debate to the value and duration of such a reprieve.  There are lots of folk who know more about this than Eli, and one of them pointed him to those who really care, the US National Hurricane Center page on Forecast Verification.  

Turns out there are multiple models from many places and a scorecard is for sure needed. NOAA provides one for the models it uses  Forecasts are done on a three hour cycle with the forecast due three hours after the start of the cycle.  Models are divided into early or late, depending on when in the cycle (or afterwards) they are available.  Early models which start to run at the beginning of the cycle and are available before the end are called early.  Those which take longer are called late.  The output of the late model is adjusted so that it feeds into the start of the next occurring cycle becoming a psuedo very early forecast for that cycle. 

Models can be statistical, depending on historical data, these tend to be early, or dynamical, at some (varied) level doing physics based climate modeling.  The most complex of these are pretty obviously late models.  Models can be dropped from the ensemble when they don't perform well or something better comes along.

That being said, how are the models doing.  Data goes back to the 1970s.

Things are improving, perhaps also because tracking is improving.  At early times the ensemble was heavily weighted to statistical models, dynamical models rose to the fore in the 1990s

There are multiple models and combining them into a single forecast has a bit of magic about it where the forecasters weigh the combination of various models.  This can be seen in the 48 hour forecasts from the "early" models and the official NHC (dark line) forecast,  The dotted line is a combination of two statistical forecasts (see links for details)

Anyhow the Florida peninsula is about 150 miles at the widest down to about 100 just north of Orlando.  You can get lucky at horseshoes.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Harvey and Irma

By scientific observation the denialati are trying to shift the question to whether climate change CAUSED these storms.  Eli's response which has been somewhat successful is to say that climate change increased the DAMAGE from these storms and that their refusal to acknowledge climate change CAUSED more damage because nothing was done in anticipation, FL being the poster child

Florida has provided funding to save the Everglades, the tropical wetlands in South Florida, but Miami Beach City Engineer Bruce Mowry said the state has not funded his city’s $500 million flood prevention programme.
Kerry Emanuel studies hurricanes and talks on them. So here is the abstract

and here the full paper

Closing with prayer last night as Irma moved towards Key West

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

-Warsan Shire

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Another Reason to Join the AGU

Well, the Fall Meeting has been moved to New Orleans, and RayP tweets
Having said that, have a look at the draft statement which starts:
It is not currently possible to robustly assess the potential consequences of geoengineering (also known as “climate engineering”). Therefore, significant additional research, risk assessment,  and consideration of difficult policy questions are required before the potential of  geoengineering systems to offset climate change can be evaluated adequately.
The weakness Ray sees, of course, is who is going to stop anybunny who starts, and if the consequences are positive for them and negative for others, what's gonna stop them.

Anyhow it continues
It is well established that humans are responsible, primarily through the release of greenhouse gases, for most of the well‐documented increase in global average temperatures over the last  half century. Further emissions of these pollutants, particularly of carbon dioxide from the  burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly cause additional widespread changes in climate, with major negative consequences for most nations and natural ecosystems. 
The only way to slow and stop human impacts on climate is through mitigation of these emissions, which must therefore be central to any policy response to the dangers of climate change. Over the last three decades it has become apparent that there are many political and technological difficulties in achieving deep, global reductions, and many studies have shown that current mitigation efforts are not sufficient to limit global warming to widely discussed goals such as 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Mindful of this reality there has been more attention to climate adaptation: moderating climate impacts by increasing the capacity of societies to cope with them.  
Insufficient mitigation and adaptation leaves humans and nature exposed to large, harmful changes in climate. That reality has led, in part, to growing interest in the option of geoengineering: “deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change.” In theory, geoengineering technologies could be deployed—in tandem with mitigation and adaptation—with a variety of goals, such as reducing peak levels and rates of climate change or responding to unforeseen and harmful shifts in climate.
The drafting committee points out that geo engineering is a wide tent that covers a lot of cess pools, with some being riper than others, but which can be generally divided into those that steal COout of the air (called carbon dioxide removal or CDM) and others that manipulate the amount of sunlight that is absorbed in the Earth system (called solar radiation management or SRM).

The questions raised wrt CDR are who is doing it, are they doing enough, can it be scaled up and should this be a private investment Obamacare for the Atmosphere effort or do we need a government run Medicare for all the CO2 model.

SRM is another kettle of problems altogether.  If the Earth is the test tube, even preliminary tests carry ethical and political threats and, as is the case with nuclear programs, distinguishing between climate mitigation and preparations for a weather war is not always straight forward, with the answer lying in the minds of the observer.

Anybunny who joins the AGU can submit comments until September 25. ** In conclusion
CDR and SRM will not substitute for aggressive mitigation nor the need for proactive adaptation, but they could contribute to a comprehensive risk management strategy to slow 106 climate change and alleviate some of its negative impacts. The potential to help society cope with climate change and the risks of adverse consequences imply a need for adequate research, appropriate regulation, and transparent deliberation. 
Adopted by the American Geophysical Union DATE. Based on an earlier statement adopted by the AGU on 13 December 2009 in collaboration with the American Meteorological Society (as adopted by the AMS Council on 20 July 2009); revised and reaffirmed February 2012. 
** Turns out there is a radio button for non joiners so feel free to comment

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Coastal floods from rain get worse as the drop to sea level gets smaller

Something that isn't getting mentioned but should about Hurricane Harvey - gradient determines drainage speed, and higher sea level means less gradient and slower drainage. And of course you have zero gradient and zero drainage when you hit sea level, which is six or seven inches higher than it was when Houston was founded. Not an inconsiderable amount when the coast is as flat as Houston's is, and that'll get worse. This issue and Roger Pielke Jr's refusal to recognize it was one of my earlier interactions with him, back in the day.

Maybe on to a cheerier idea:

Distributed renewable generation + power storage = disaster resiliency

It's a good thing that this is gradually happening, and it's a point I was making two years ago in support of Silicon Valley cities banding together to buy their own electric power supply. It's not just good for the environment, it's about disaster preparedness. More crucial facilities can stay open if they have their own power sources or draw it from a smart grid. More people can stay home instead of evacuating if the refrigerator still operates to keep food and medicines cold, and if a stove can boil water. A bit at a time we're getting closer to this type of preparation for disaster.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Somebody Notices


Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is an Impeachable Offense

....Trump’s defenders will ask how a president can be impeached merely for exercising a power he undeniably possesses. But this question turns the constitutional function of impeachment on its head.

The founders included in the Constitution a congressional power to impeach presidents primarily to respond to misuse by the president of express or implied powers given him elsewhere in the document. the founders, the main point of impeachment was that there must be a remedy when a president perverts the powers of his office, either for personal or political self-aggrandizement or, regardless of motive, when the president’s acts threaten the proper distribution of authority among the coordinate branches or otherwise offend either law or fundamental governing norms.

Some things worth adding:
  • The term "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the Constitution is broader than doing something technically illegal, it refers to a gross abuse of office. It doesn't matter how unlimited the pardon power is, it is still limited by the impeachment power to remedy and prevent further abuse of office.
  • Pardons normally occur despite the petitioner's crime, done in light of the other good works and redeeming features of the pardoned person. Trump didn't pardon Arpaio despite Arpaio's illegal activities, he pardoned Arpaio because of Trump's support for Arpaio's illegal defiance of court orders directing him to stop racially profiling people. While the official statement glosses over this, Trump himself is very clear, indicating this week that he planned to pardon Arpaio because Trump viewed the illegal activities as Arpaio "doing his job."

And despite all this, I'm not quite ready to say Trump's actions satisfy the grounds for impeachment. This action is one article of impeachment. Another is his violation of the emoluments clause. By themselves I don't think they're enough. Other charges like collusion with Russia to harm American democracy are still in process and not fully determined.

That Trump is unfit for office is clear, however, and he's making it likely that in addition he will soon be a good candidate for removal via impeachment (despite whatever Senate Republicans may say).

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Rare Climate Victory in Congress

From the Miami Herald:

Carlos Curbelo touts himself as a rare Republican in Washington willing to criticize Donald Trump and conservative members of his own party.

And after months of talk and lots of tweeting, Curbelo’s effort to build a bloc of moderate Republicans capable of swaying anti-climate-change legislation appears to have paid off.

Curbelo’s Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats who are concerned about the impacts of climate change, voted en masse on Thursday against a proposal to nix a Defense Department report on the threats posed by climate change to military installations.

The vote was 234-185 that ended a Congressional attempt to stop the military from planning how it responds to things like sea level rise at naval ports.

It is possible to go too far in support of climate denialism - do that and you'll lose ten percent of Congressional Republicans and lose the vote. OTOH, this was a pretty extreme attempt at Congressional interference in the military.

We'll see if any other signs of sanity come out of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Marohasy Mess Up

Among the things that bother Eli, and there are myriad, is not understanding that because proxy reconstructions are calibrated by using instrumental records they by necessity ASSUME Mike's trick, extending the proxy by use of instrumental data.  In fact, the instrumental data is more accurate in the period where they overlap, because the proxys are scaled to it.  Thus, the instrumental record used for the calibration should always be shown.  Moreover, IEHO, the usable instrumental records (properly homogenized of course) in the area where the proxy is sampled should be the ones used to scale each proxy individually.  Something that either does not appear to be much done or at least not much noted.  No matter.

Anyhow, Jeniffer Marohasy and accomplice John Abbot have published a paper in a soon to be former Journal, GeoResJ, of which it could be said that it is Elsevier and it is history

GeoResJ will be discontinued from January 2018 and is closed to new submissions. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the authors, referees, editors and editorial board members who have contributed to the journal over the past few years.
As to Jen and John, well Eli guesses that they have observed the profit that Judy Curry and Peter Webster are making, well they have set up their own long range weather forcasting service, one that Eli assumes will compete with the Farmer's Almanac and Piers Corbyn for James Annan's betting attention.  They even have their own journal.  Isn't the Internet wonderful.  Frankly Eli is of the opinion that Curry and Webster are ahead in that game even tho the Bunny's opinion of the later two, is, well, limited.

ATTP has published a comment on the Abbott Marohasy paper.  Go there for details, but Eli wants to pick up on the Twitting.  One of the fits from the AM paper were featured on Breitbart (friends don't link friends to Breitbart :(.  It turns out that that was from Moberg 05 and various claims were undressed by the usual skeptics.

Zeke was the first to notice, and he twitted the
which he later ammended to
Now Eli went and looked at Moberg 05 to find
To calibrate the reconstruction, its mean value and variance were adjusted to agree with the instrumental record of Northern Hemisphere annual mean temperatures [19] in the overlapping period AD 1856–1979 (Fig. 2b).
Ref 19 is Hemispheric and Large-Scale Surface Air Temperature Variations: An Extensive Revision and an Update to 2001 by P. D. Jones and A. Moberg the first two sentences of which are
This study is an extensive revision of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) land station temperature database that is used to produce a gridbox dataset of 5° latitude × 5° longitude temperature anomalies.
but also included a land+ocean data merge and it looks like that is the one Moberg used.  Gavin got an ear in pointing out that Abbott and Marohasy's time axis was off by ~ 35 years.  That meant that their 20th century was really 1845-1965. As all know there has been a steep rise in global temperature since then. 

and fetched J. Marohasy out of the brian patch
which is amusing in light of Fig. 2B from Moberg 05

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial

The Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry was the first African American regiment formed in the US Civil War.  Lead by Robert Gould Shaw the regiment endured heavy casualties and fought with valor. Shaw was killed in the attack on Fort Wagner South Carolina in 1863.  Sgt William Carney was the first African American to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in that fight.

Dedicated in 1897, the monument was created by August St. Gaudens and paid for by private donations.  The relief shows Shaw and the troopers marching off to a war that would free their countrymen from chattel slavery.  It sits opposite the State House on Beacon Street in Boston.

At the dedication
The military units present began to march past the Memorial, led by 65 veterans of the 54th Regiment. Some of the officers wore their Civil War uniforms, but most of the enlisted men were in their best frock coats. Black veterans from the 55th Massachusetts and the 5th Cavalry were also present. Among the men of the 54th, Sergeant Carney carried the American Flag. The sight of him elicited cheers from the onlookers who knew of his exploits. The 54th veterans laid a large wreath of Lilies of the Valley before the monument. All of this deeply moved Saint-Gaudens:

"Many of them were bent and crippled, many with white heads, some with bouquets... The impression of those old soldiers, passing the very spot where they left for the war so many years before, thrills me even as I write these words. They faced and saluted the relief, with the music playing 'John Brown's Body'…. They seemed as if returning from the war, the troops of bronze marching in the opposite direction, the direction in which they had left for the front, and the young men there represented now showing these veterans the vigor and hope of youth. It was a consecration."

Monday, August 07, 2017

Making the Elephant Dance as Performed by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller

As John von Neuman put it
With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.
and, as fate would happen, along comes Ned Nikolov and Karl Zellner with "New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model".  It's basically 22 pages of word salad and Eli may later return to pointing out some of the more amusing light fingered moves, but here the Bunny will only provide a small amuse bouche with the "interesting" exercise in fitting five numbers with four free parameters, two unphysical constants and a free choice of fitting form.

So briefly, what goes on is to fit the five average surface temperatures of five plants or moons (Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Titan and Triton.  Wait you say, that's six, not five, but they leave Titan out of the mix because  (Eli told you this would be yummy) to an arbitrary functional form

y = a exp(bx) + c exp(dx)

Wait you say again, ok, that is four parameters and the functional form plucked out of thin air, but what is x and y.  That's kind of interesting and more than a bit light fingered but you have to watch the moving cup.  The independent variable is a ratio of pressures (Ps/Pr).  Ps is the pressure at the surface, Pr, well that's interesting, Pr starts out as the "minimum air pressure required for the existence of a liquid solvent at the surface, hereto called a reference pressure (Pr)" but about a page further on it morphs into 
For a reference pressure, we used the gas-liquid-solid triple point of water, i.e., Pr=611.73Pa [38] defining a baric threshold, below which water can only exists in a solid/vapor phase and not in a liquid form. The results of our analysis are not sensitive to the particular choice of a reference pressure value; hence, the selection of Pr is a matter of convention.
The alert out there have noticed that the minimum air pressure required for the existence of a liquid solvent at the surface kind of depends on the temperature of the surface, and would vary widely from planet to planet. Of course worry bunnies like Eli might ask:  What liquid?  Water exists as water on the surface of the Earth, if there was any as steam at Venus and as ice at all the others if it exists there at all.  For Venus maybe CO2, but at the surface of Venus CO2 is a supercritical fluid and you can't tell the difference between liquid and gas.  At Titan, there are oceans, but oceans of methane, so any useful Pr is going to be wildly different for all of these bodies and, in the case of the Mars, and Triton some pretty fancy liquids are going to be needed.

Selection of water as the solvent of choice is then both arbitrary and unphysical.  But why do Nikolov and Zeller insist on using it? Turns out their elephantine trunk waving depends on using dimensionless variables, but restricting Pr to an inappropriate value independent of the planet is equivalent to stripping the units off of the surface pressure Ps.

How about y.  y is defined as the ratio (Ts/Tr) with some really serious trickery buried in TrTr is defined as a reference temperature,
the planet's mean surface temperature in the absence of an atmosphere or an atmospheric greenhouse effect.
At this point no bunny should be surprised to find that that ain't quite that.  Whoa.  Where that come from.  Old timers may remember Eli's old friends Gerlich and Tscheuschner who were also in the business of trying to falsify the greenhouse effect, by as was pointed out, not understanding what the greenhouse effect was.  As Science of Doom put it
 Gerlich & Tscheuschner have written an amazing paper which had the appearance of physics yet failed to address any real climate science.
Eli and several distinguished bunnies had a run at G&T, but, of course, as such things go, the majicians never give up, and one may anticipate a visit from Nikolov and Zeller too.  Good times to be had.

Anyhow, one of the results was a nice arXiv article by Arthur Smith explaining how the surface temperature of a rotating planet varies with the rotational period and the heat content of the surface, which for the earth is basically that of water.

The parameter λ for the Earth is 0.04 and describes the ratio of the energy absorbed from the sun in a day to the heat capacity of the surface.  The effective temperature is the temperature determined by emission from  the surface on a non-rotating body needed to maintain thermal equilibrium.  Depending on your model Arthur showed, as was well known, that the average temperature of the surface of a rotating planet without greenhouse gases has to be less than the effective temperature.

Nikolov and Zeller reproduced Smith's results in another paper with one very strange twist.  In their model  they insist that every planet without an atmosphere will have the same surface as the moon.  (Basically λ =20 in the figure above.)  Using the bare moon Tr now Tna, is, again arbitrary, but let's go ahead and look at the fit which is all John von Neuman told you it would be

Further hand waving ensues.  Nikolov and Zellner will soon be here to entertain you.  Eli warns the bunnies they are indefatigable and will tell you to read the paper.  Eli's advice is if you want some laughs go ahead.  Scott Denning has been trapped into the endless circle, so be sure to take some survival rations for him.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The face of a champion

Context (link here if the video doesn't work, just scroll down):

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Tyler Cowen and defensive innovation: reasonable idea, problematic execution

Tyler Cowen has an interesting point about "defensive innovation" meant to prevent future problems, wherein he describes climate change as a future problem and Tesla as a defensive innovator that solves the future problem without necessarily improving human lives over baseline conditions.

It's a reasonable point viewed in isolation, that we may overestimate how technology improves lives over the baseline condition when it just solves problems we anticipate. The problem is overplaying the point. One example is Cowen referencing a cure to Alzheimer's as a defensive innovation - yes it's true that Alzheimer's will likely become far worse of an affliction as our population ages in the next few decades. OTOH, it's already a tremendous problem today - as an economist, Cowen should appreciate the tremendous, current economic cost in treatment and decreased earnings from Alzheimer's today, let alone the negative utility from human suffering (and to be fair, he doesn't completely ignore this).

Climate change is a comparable example - for one thing, it's already harming us. For another, environmental impacts are rarely unique - the pollution that causes climate change has many other negative impacts on health and the environment.

A thought experiment:  compare a modestly optimistic future for our Earth in the year 2050 relative to Earth 2 in another universe, exactly like ours except some quirk in physics or technology keeps greenhouse gases from building up in their atmosphere. Earth 2 will be still be using coal and petroleum in 2050, with resulting air quality health impacts and devastated environment from mining and spills. They'll talk about switching to wind and solar, but those technologies will be expensive because Earth 2 hadn't spent many decades subsidizing research in those fields. Earth 2 will also be poorer than us because fossil fuel energy there will be more expensive than cheap renewables here.

Other than the climate impacts, Earth 2 will be worse than Earth. Climate mitigation is making Earth a better place.

One final point - from a policy perspective, it doesn't matter whether an innovation is defensive or an improvement over current conditions. If it fixes a problem in the future at an acceptable cost, then it doesn't matter whether that problem exists in the present or just in the future - you should still fix it. Climate change exists in the present, but regardless, the future catastrophe is well worth preventing.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Eli Responds to Gerlich and Tscheuschner

Sometimes Eli gets the feeling he was created for Twitter.  In answer to the old question of how a cooler atmosphere with greenhouse gases can warm the surface

Extended remarks from John Tyndall in 1859, who put it better
[T]he atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet.

Original Climateball

Andy Dessler set off a bit of a tweetstorm asking where the definition of climate sensitivity as 2xCO2 came from.

Turns out the answer is Arrhenius in 1896
but, to meander to the point of this post for another reason Eli was guided to an old favorite, Through the Looking Glass, and the Original Climateball dialog between Alice and Humpty Dumpty.  To just pull a few lines out of the mouth of the egg:
'You don't know what you're talking about!' cried Humpty Dumpty. 'How many days are there in a year?'

'Three hundred and sixty-five,' said Alice.

'And how many birthdays have you?'


'And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five what remains?'

'Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.'

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. 'I'd rather see that done on paper,' he said.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Issues with bat/wind turbine study, worse reporting, and awful Op-Editing

(Maybe worth emphasizing this is Brian writing, not Eli or John.)

A new study gives some reason to believe that wind turbines have secondary effects on bat mortality compared to other anthropogenic factors like intentional killing, accidents, and the imported fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome. You'd have trouble knowing that though after reading the bad reporting in Scientific American and worse Op-Editing by a Manhattan Institute 'scholar'. To be fair to the secondary reports, the study itself could've done a better job discussing its results.

Disclaimer time! I'm not a scientist, let a alone a bat specialist, maybe I'm off. Regardless, said specialists probably will get something useful from the study, but it's broader public effect isn't so great.

So, problems with the study:

1. It is not a study of bat mortality. It's a study of Mass Mortality Events (ten bodies or more). If you don't know the relationship between MMEs and overall mortality (and apparently we don't), then you don't know the importance of MME causes to bat conservation. Aside from one throwaway sentence (that many bat species are gregarious and therefore likely to have MMEs) this issue isn't discussed. There's also no discussion of habitat destruction except when the destruction creates MMEs, when habitat destruction is likely far more important than any other factor.

2. Actually, it's not a study of MMEs, it's a study of reported MMEs. In other words, nobody went out and did transects in places with bats to survey for MMEs - this study just looks at reports of MMEs however they came to be, creating a significant bias because what gets reported is not even an attempt at a random survey of MMEs. This is not well-acknowledged in the study, with an important exception saying wind turbine reports are biased higher because of mandatory reporting requirements that don't exist for other causes. Subsequent reporting on this study by others omits this disclaimer.

3. Worst of all IMHO is they included qualitative reports of MMEs (i.e. reports of "many" dead bats) and they did not adjust measured mortality quantitatively for the number of deaths in each MME. So a MME of 10 bats counts equally in their study with one killing 10,000 bats (and they acknowledge some MMEs at that level and higher). I think this is worst of all because it seems like something they could actually fix, while the first two problems are limitations they couldn't fix but could have acknowledged more readily.

Related to this last flaw of what MMEs were considered is that they excluded MME reports of food markets and of bat imports. My cynical take is they excluded those categories because they'd overwhelm the others and highlight the problem of selection bias for reported MMEs. They say they excluded food market reports because it's been studied elsewhere, an explanation that doesn't make sense when surveying relative causes of mortality.

Disclaimer time again! I didn't read the supplements which might give some defense against my criticism, but they weren't attached to the Google Scholar link. I supposed I could've been more industrious and contacted the authors, but I also think these flaws should've been addressed in the study itself.

Anyway, some props to the study for disclosing its limitations even if they could've highlighted them and done things differently. Below are the key category results IMO - they disclose and then ignore the figures in parentheses, we will do the opposite (and note the study includes other categories that aren't relevant to this post):

Category                          Total MMEs (and order of magnitude for maximum number carcasses in single events per category)

Intentional killing           205 (10x5)
Accidental                         66 (10x4)
Wind turbines                  281 (10x2)
White Nose Syndrome   266 (10x4)

What I take from this is that of these four categories, wind turbines kill the fewest bats - by two or more orders of magnitude. Contrast this with the study abstract that says

 Collisions with wind turbines and white-nose syndrome are now the leading causes of reported MMEs in bats.

Scientific American takes that to mean

wind turbines are, by far, the largest cause of mass bat mortality around the world

And Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute:

wind turbines are now the largest cause of mass bat mortality. 

People who don't read the original study (Bryce doesn't even link to it) are unlikely to catch the importance of the qualifier "mass," or that they're measuring events and not the numbers of bats killed in mass events. Even with all that, Scientific American's "by far" is completely wrong. Bryce gets many other things wrong or exaggerated in his anti-wind jeremiad.

One wrinkle to this is that the study shows a large change in MMEs since 2000, with far fewer of other categories while nearly-identical, large numbers of MMEs occur from wind turbines and White Nose Syndrome (maybe 37% of events from turbines and 36% from WNS). That still doesn't change the fact that WNS kills bats by two orders of magnitude more, nor that there's a reporting bias to show more wind turbine MMEs.

I'm not rejecting that turbines killing bats are a concern (my idea btw is to put high-frequency, very short distance sonar warning noisemakers on problematic turbines), just how it's being discussed. The study does mention climate change as a future and present-day impact on bats. Bryce somehow omits that.

What this all needs is perspective.