Start of the end? Iron-man QB Favre saying he likely can’t play – NFL News

December 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Globe and Mail
Start of the end? Iron-man QB Favre saying he likely can't play
NFL News
By Jason La Canfora NFL Network Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has told teammates and associates that he doesn't believe he can play Monday night, and his NFL-record starts streak will end at 297 games,
Metrodome roof collapses; Giants-Vikings moved to DetroitUSA Today
Favre's status for Monday unclearFOXSports.com
Minneapolis Metrodome roof collapses after stormmsnbc.com
Kansas City Star –ESPN –SportingNews.com
all 3,021 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Favre’s streak likely over as QB tells teammates he can’t go – NFL News

December 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Fox News
Favre's streak likely over as QB tells teammates he can't go
NFL News
By Jason La Canfora NFL Network Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has told teammates and associates that he does not believe he can play Monday and his streak will end, according to sources with knowledge of the
NFL moves Giants-Vikings game to Detroit; tickets to be freeUSA Today
Metrodome Roof Collapses; Vikings-Giants PostponedSan Francisco Chronicle
Drew Sharp: Finally, a game worth watching in DetroitDetroit Free Press
ABC News –Atlanta Journal Constitution –msnbc.com
all 2,785 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Both those who voted Lib Dem and those who considered voting Lib Dem are less likely to do so next time

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

thetorydiary

MARYLAND: Marriage Equality Vote Likely To Come Before End Of Year

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

The Baltimore Sun reports that a vote on same-sex marriage will likely be put to the Maryland legislature before the end of the year.

In the march toward equal rights for gays and lesbians in Maryland, small things can make a big difference. A couple of Republican state senators were replaced by Democrats, giving the majority party an extra seat in a key committee. One socially conservative Democrat asked to be reassigned, and suddenly a 6-5 split against same-sex marriage in the Judicial Proceedings Committee looks like it could turn into a 6-5 vote in favor of it. [snip] That’s a lot of chickens to count before they hatch, but the path toward legalizing gay marriage here looks clearer than ever — not because of any extraordinary event, or landmark court case, or massive protest march, but because one by one, Marylanders have grown comfortable with the idea that homosexuality is no reason to deny someone’s fundamental rights.

The above-linked article cautions that should lawmakers approve marriage equality, opponents need only get 3% of Maryland’s electorate, about 56,000 people, to sign a repeal petition that would place the issue on the 2012 ballot.

Joe. My. God.

Ellsbury likely to lead off; Crawford after him? – MLB.com

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

ESPN
Ellsbury likely to lead off; Crawford after him?
MLB.com
BOSTON — Right around the time the news became public — that Carl Crawford was coming to the Red Sox — the lineup projections started. They were put together by analysts, bloggers, talk-show callers,
Crawford: I think my heart is in BostonBoston Herald
The Angels set a deadline, but the Red Sox got there first to land CrawfordBoston Globe
Jason Varitek doesn't have to worry about Carl Crawford nowWEEI.com
Rotoworld.com –NESN.com –ESPN
all 531 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Republicans Likely To Push For Abortion Limits In New Congress

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Well, so much for the idea that the incoming House Republicans would restrict themselves to the fiscal issues:

WASHINGTON — A leading Congressional opponent of abortion rights, who is in line to take charge of an influential House panel, plans to press for much stricter limits on the procedure.

The selection of the lawmaker, Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health presages a major shift on abortion and family planning, according to opponents and supporters of abortion rights.

Opponents of abortion gained about 45 seats in the midterm elections, and they count the next speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, as a staunch ally, virtually guaranteeing more conflicts with the White House on the issue.

Mr. Pitts was chosen last week as the chairman of the subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over private health insurance, Medicaid and much of Medicare, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

In urging Republican leaders to choose Mr. Pitts, the National Right to Life Committee said he had “made the protection of the sanctity of innocent human life the cornerstone of his service in the House.”

Representative Lois Capps, a California Democrat and an advocate of abortion rights, described Mr. Pitts as “one of the most anti-choice members” of the House. Given the midterm election results, Ms. Capps predicted that the new Congress would be “extremely hostile to a woman’s right to choose.”

Laurie Rubiner, vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Mr. Pitts was “as anti-choice as a member of Congress can be.”

Pitts’ primary target would seem to be the new health care reform law:

“The new health care law is riddled with loopholes that allow taxpayer subsidies for coverage that includes abortion,” Mr. Pitts said.

He has introduced a bill that would, with extremely limited exceptions, ban the use of federal subsidies “to pay for any abortion, or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.”

Of course, despite its other flaws, the Affordable Care Act does not allow for federal funds for abortion coverage:

Under the new law, health insurance plans are generally allowed to cover abortion. If they cover the procedure, they cannot use federal money to pay for it. People who enroll in such plans have to write two premium checks, one for abortion coverage and one for everything else, and insurers must keep the money in separate accounts.

Leaving aside the policy issue itself, it strikes me as mistaken for the GOP to divert itself from the economic and fiscal issues that were the primary factors that drove voters to the polls in November and concentrate not only on a social issue, but on a social issue that has been nothing but divisive for the past f0rty years. If I were a Democrat, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d want to see the GOP do.




Outside the Beltway

NASA: Hottest November on record, 2010 likely hottest year on record globally — despite deepest solar minimum in a century – In U.S., heat records far exceed cold for 9th consecutive month

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

NASA released its monthly global temperature data, revealing November was easily the hottest in the temperature record.  The “meteorological year” — December to November — was also the hottest on record.  Calendar year 2010 appears poised to be the hottest on record.

These records are especially impressive because we’re in the middle of a strong La Niña, which would normally cool off temperatures for a few months (relatively speaking), and we’ve been in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”  It’s just hard to stop the march of manmade global warming, other than by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that is.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_oy2DMM6iwUU/TPlDsb221iI/AAAAAAAAB6M/W3NwD1iTquE/s1600/temp.records.113010.jpg

As for the U.S., Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate analyzed the data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) for his post, “November Temperature Extremes: Heat Records Far Exceed Cold For 9th Consecutive Month,” which notes:

As they have for every month in 2010 except January and February, U.S. daily maximum temperature records far exceeded minimum records in November. Thanks to a cold surge in the last week of the month, the ratio of heat records to cold records declined to 1.8:1, but the ratio of 2.7:1 for the year to date is still well above that of the most recent decade.

Heat records dominated cold records by a wide margin for most of the month, reaching a peak of 126 on the 23rd. Daily cold records, on the other hand, peaked at 90 on the 25th.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_oy2DMM6iwUU/TPlDpxuIq2I/AAAAAAAAB6E/gG41IWFn0Gg/s1600/temp.records.daily.nov10.jpg

Readers know I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can’t pin any one record temperature on global warming.

If you want to know how to judge whether the 2.7:1 ratio for the year to data is a big deal, here’s what a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study found for 1,800 weather stations in continental US over the past six decades:

temps

NCAR explained their findings this way:

Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”

So this year is on the hot side.

It seems pretty likely that the UK’s Met[eorological], part of its Defence Ministry, will also record 2010 as the hottest year on record — once they correct their flawed data in a few months — see The deniers were half right: The Met Office Hadley Centre had flawed data — but it led them to UNDERestimate the rate of recent global warming.

As an aside, I asked NASA’s James Hansen whether they would have to make a similar correction as the Met Office in the ocean data, and he wrote:

This correction of ocean data will have a small (warming) effect on our analysis.  I don’t think that it will have a noticeable effect on a graph.  But it does reinforce our conclusion that warming has been continuous over the past few decades — the contention that warming “stopped” in 1998 is wrong….

The effect on our ocean data, I suspect, will be smaller than the recent 0.03C/decade that Kennedy et al. state as upper limit for the effect.

It remains the case that both NASA and the Met Office do not fully account for all of the warming in the Arctic, the place on the earth where it has warmed the most, but NASA does a better job (since the Met Office just excludes the area entirely) and so its numbers are almost certainly more accurate (see “Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?” and “What exactly is polar amplification and why does it matter?“).

So even if NASA declares 2010 a statistical tie with 2005, in reality it likely will be the hottest year.

As for the much-rejiggered UAH satellite data, it appears that even in the lower troposphere, 2010 temperatures will statistically tie the record for the hottest year, as Spencer reports on his blog.  Although he has been been making increasingly unscientific and conspiratorial claims (see here), he does put out a nice figure every month:

UAH_LT_1979_thru_Nov_10

NASA hasn’t yet posted its nice comparison chart of year-to-date temperatures updated for November yet (found here), but when they do, I’ll repost it.  But in its place, here is there November 2010 anomaly figure:

Fig 1: Global map

Note: Gray areas signify missing data.

Here’s the caption for the top two figures:

– Total number of daily high temperature, low temperature, and high minimum temperature records set in the U.S. for spring 2010 (March-April-May) and monthly from June through November 2010, data from NOAA National Climatic Data Center, background image © Kevin Ambrose (www.weatherbook.com). Includes historical daily observations archived in NCDC’s Cooperative Summary of the Day data set and preliminary reports from Cooperative Observers and First Order National Weather Service stations. All stations have a Period of Record of at least 30 years.
– Daily numbers of high and low temperature records set in the U.S. for November 2010, data source as above

Related Post:

Climate Progress

Heisman Trophy Favorite Newton Likely to Beat Quarterback Jinx as NFL Star – Bloomberg

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Globe and Mail
Heisman Trophy Favorite Newton Likely to Beat Quarterback Jinx as NFL Star
Bloomberg
Cam Newton's record-setting season at Auburn University has stamped the junior quarterback as the Heisman Trophy favorite. It's also grabbed the attention of National Football League teams.
Newton stands by his fatherNews & Observer
Newton should accept, then return his Heismanmsnbc.com
Troubles shouldn't prevent Newton's Heisman landslideKansas City Star
Seattle Times –Plain Dealer –SportingNews.com
all 2,470 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Major Science study: Observations confirm “the short-term cloud feedback is likely positive” – Trenberth explains, “The work is sound and is a very useful contribution,” while Roy Spencer makes an unsound response.

December 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Changes in clouds will amplify the warming of the planet due to human activities, according to a breakthrough study by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will cause clouds to trap more heat, which will lead to additional warming. This process is known as the “cloud feedback” and is predicted to be responsible for a significant portion of the warming over the next century….

“I think we can be pretty confident that temperatures will rise by several degrees Celsius over the next century if we continue our present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”

A major new study in Science, “A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade,” (subs. req’d) uses observations to answer what is probably the most important uncertainty in the climate models:  What is the feedback from clouds?

Now we can be confident the feedback is likely positive, and exceedingly unlikely to be negative enough to counter the many other positive, amplifying feedbacks.  In short, as Dessler says, “This work suggests that climate models are doing a pretty decent job simulating how clouds respond to changing climates.”  Recent studies have come to a similar conclusion — see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.”

Because this is such an important issue — and because this study should be the final nail in the coffin of the central denier myth that the climate has a low sensitivity to CO2 — this post includes two videos explaining the study, an exclusive comment on the study by one of the leading experts on the cloud feedback (NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth), and Dessler’s debunking of the laughable conspiracy-laden response by a discredited disinformer (Roy Spencer).

Perhaps the most important point about the study is that it is the first of its kind based on actual observation, as the Texas A&M news release quoted above explains:

Dessler used measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite to calculate the amount of energy trapped by clouds as the climate varied over the last decade.  He also used meteorological analyses provided by NASA’s Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Here is Dessler explaining the study in a short video:

As Dessler notes of the cloud feedback issue, “There’s never been a measurement of that using observations.”

Dessler put together a more technical videos — with charts — explaining the study:

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, is one of the leading experts on cloud modeling.  He had been critical of some recent studies on the cloud feedback effect, so I asked for his thoughts on this study.  He replied:

The work is sound and is a very useful contribution.  It is a foil to some of the misleading work that Richard Lindzen has published (and which we have shown is wrong).  Kudos to Andy Dessler for trying to do this and doing it as well as it can be done.

He also offered some advice for improving the study, which I passed on to Dessler, and made the point about “the preliminary nature of the result owing to the short data record and the weather noise.”

Lindzen has been pushing the “clouds are a negative feedback” theory with bad analysis for a long time — see Lindzen debunked again: New scientific study finds his paper downplaying dangers of human-caused warming is “seriously in error”;  Trenberth: The flaws in Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got.”

Lindzen isn’t the only discredited disinformer desperately trying to push back against the tide of scientific analysis and observations.  Science magazine’s story, “El Niño Lends More Confidence to Strong Global Warming,” notes:

[Dessler’s] result is “convincing evidence” that—at least on the scale of decades—clouds do not counter warming, says climate researcher Brian Soden of the University of Miami in Florida….

“This is a very important check of the models,” says climate researcher Qiang Fu of the University of Washington, Seattle. “It shows no evidence of a large negative cloud feedback.” But climate researcher Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, disagrees. He published one of the two papers finding evidence of a strongly negative cloud feedback. He finds in his own analyses signs that Dessler is seeing not only cloud changes caused by temperature changes but also temperature changes caused by natural cloud fluctuations. Such effects garble the true negative feedback beyond recognition, he says.

Spencer’s “interpretation is wrong,” says Soden, but even if Spencer were right that there’s a cause-and-effect problem, Dessler’s method of comparing observations and models “eliminates some possibilities, such as the models being egregiously wrong. It’s about as good as we can do with current data sets.”

Few of the climate science disinformers have been as wrong — dead wrong — as Spencer for as long.  He famously made a bunch of analytical blunders and spent years pushing the now long-overturned notion that the satellite data didn’t show significant warming (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“).  As RealClimate explained:

We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

So after that history, we’re supposed to savor all Roy’s new cookery?

So I think the working assumption should be that when Spencer pushes some convoluted new analysis to justify his views, it’s more cookery — an assumption that has so far stood the test of time as Spencer’s claims have grown more absurd over time [see The Great Global Warming Blunder: Roy Spencer asserts (and Morano parrots), “I predict that the proposed cure for global warming – reducing greenhouse gas emissions – will someday seem as outdated as using leeches to cure human illnesses.” Uhh, guys, doctors still use medicinal leeches!]

Yet more outrageous charges can be found in Spencer’s latest blog, “The Dessler Cloud Feedback Paper in Science: A Step Backward for Climate Research.”  Dessler easily swats aside the substance of what Spencer says in a new post on RC:

Dr. Spencer is arguing that clouds are causing ENSO [El Niño southern oscillation] cycles, so the direction of causality in my analysis is incorrect and my conclusions are in error.After reading this, I initiated a cordial and useful exchange of e-mails with Dr. Spencer (you can read the full e-mail exchange here). We ultimately agreed that the fundamental disagreement between us is over what causes ENSO. Short paraphrase:

Spencer: ENSO is caused by clouds. You cannot infer the response of clouds to surface temperature in such a situation.

Dessler: ENSO is not caused by clouds, but is driven by internal dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere system. Clouds may amplify the warming, and that’s the cloud feedback I’m trying to measure.

My position is the mainstream one, backed up by decades of research. This mainstream theory is quite successful at simulating almost all of the aspects of ENSO.

Dr. Spencer, on the other hand, is as far out of the mainstream when it comes to ENSO as he is when it comes to climate change. He is advancing here a completely new and untested theory of ENSO — based on just one figure in one of his papers (and, as I told him in one of our e-mails, there are other interpretations of those data that do not agree with his interpretation).

Thus, the burden of proof is Dr. Spencer to show that his theory of causality during ENSO is correct. He is, at present, far from meeting that burden. And until Dr. Spencer satisfies this burden, I don’t think anyone can take his criticisms seriously.

It’s also worth noting that the picture I’m painting of our disagreement (and backed up by the e-mail exchange linked above) is quite different from the picture provided by Dr. Spencer on his blog. His blog is full of conspiracies and purposeful suppression of the truth. In particular, he accuses me of ignoring his work. But as you can see, I have not ignored it — I have dismissed it because I think it has no merit. That’s quite different.

Snap!

Spencer goes the full X-Files — hey, folks said I was using “jump the shark” too much — on his blog:

Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.

I suspect – but have no proof of it – that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.

This is tinfoil-hat stuff.

No single scientific paper — not even a major one like this — could possibly influence the meeting in Cancun, which is the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), not IPCC!  There are hundreds and hundreds of scientific papers that provide more than enough motivation to act — including more than three dozen in the last year alone, see “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice” and “Royal Society special issue details ‘hellish vision’ of 7°F (4°C) world — which we may face in the 2060s!

Dessler writes:

I would also like to respond to his accusation that the timing of the paper is somehow connected to the IPCC’s meeting in Cancun. I can assure everyone that no one pressured me in any aspect of the publication of this paper. As Dr. Spencer knows well, authors have no control over when a paper ultimately gets published.

In fact, the key phrase Spencer uses is one that pretty much sums up his entire body of work, especially his claims that the climate sensitivity is low:  “I … have no proof of it.”

Related Post:

Climate Progress

Is Obama Making His Re-Election Less Likely?

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

A key paragraph from Mark Zandi's economic analysis:

It is … important to note that growth will be slower in 2012 than previously anticipated, as the fiscal drag expected in 2011 is pushed off another year. The deal will also encourage businesses to pull investment forward into 2011, to the detriment of investment in 2012. The economy will end up in about the same place—as measured by GDP, jobs and unemployment—by mid-2013.

Krugman cites Zandi and concludes that the tax deal will lower Obama's re-election chances: 

[W]hat we know from lots of political economy research — Larry Bartels is my guru on this — is that presidential elections depend, not on the state of the economy, but on whether things are getting better or worse in the year or so before the election. The unemployment rate in October 1984 was almost the same as the rate in October 1980 — but Carter was thrown out by voters who saw things getting worse, while for Reagan it was morning in America.

Put these two observations together — and what you get is that the tax-cut deal makes Obama’s reelection less likely. Let me repeat: the tax cut deal makes Obama less likely to win in 2012.

Larison agrees. Drum doesn't. Nor does Ezra Klein:

The payroll-tax cuts look like the Bush tax cuts in reverse. By slapping an expiration date on the cuts, the Obama administration got twice as much as they otherwise would've (Making Work Pay, the tax cut being replaced, was only half size of the payroll-tax cut in 2011). And just as it was very difficult to let the Bush tax cuts expire, it'll be very difficult to let the payroll-tax cut expire. So the likely outcome here is that Democrats got $ 240 billion of payroll stimulus rather than $ 120 billion. That sounds good for Obama's reelection.

Republicans could, of course, try to let the payroll-tax cut expire. But then, as they've admitted, they'll be raising taxes in an election year. And nobody likes to do that.

Ryan Avent likewise believes Krugman is in the wrong:

Deceleration is not the same as "getting worse". And neither is decelerating growth the kiss of death. Take Mr Krugman's own example of the election of 1984, in which Ronald Reagan triumphed. Real GDP growth in that cycle actually peaked in the second quarter of 1983—more than a year before the election—after which it steadily slowed. From that 9.3% performance, growth tumbled to 3.3% by the fourth quarter of 1984, when voters actually went to the polls.

The second point to make is that according to Mr Bartels, it's income growth, rather than GDP growth, that really matters. And for income growth, the level of employment is clearly important; in a tighter labour market wages rise faster than in a slack market. On this score, the tax cut plan delivers. The level of employment is substantially higher with the deal than without it, and the unemployment rate is 8.4% in 2012 with the package compared to 8.7% with no package.

 





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Major Science study: Observations confirm “the short-term cloud feedback is likely positive” – Trenberth explains, “The work is sound and is a very useful contribution,” while Roy Spencer makes an unsound response.

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Changes in clouds will amplify the warming of the planet due to human activities, according to a breakthrough study by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will cause clouds to trap more heat, which will lead to additional warming. This process is known as the “cloud feedback” and is predicted to be responsible for a significant portion of the warming over the next century….

“I think we can be pretty confident that temperatures will rise by several degrees Celsius over the next century if we continue our present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”

A major new study in Science, “A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade,” (subs. req’d) uses observations to answer what is probably the most important uncertainty in the climate models:  What is the feedback from clouds?

Now we can be confident the feedback is likely positive, and exceedingly unlikely to be negative enough to counter the many other positive, amplifying feedbacks.  In short, as Dessler says, “This work suggests that climate models are doing a pretty decent job simulating how clouds respond to changing climates.”  Recent studies have come to a similar conclusion — see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.”

Because this is such an important issue — and because this study should be the final nail in the coffin of the central denier myth that the climate has a low sensitivity to CO2 — this post includes two videos explaining the study, an exclusive comment on the study by one of the leading experts on the cloud feedback (NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth), and Dessler’s debunking of the laughable conspiracy-laden response by a discredited disinformer (Roy Spencer).

Perhaps the most important point about the study is that it is the first of its kind based on actual observation, as the Texas A&M news release quoted above explains:

Dessler used measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite to calculate the amount of energy trapped by clouds as the climate varied over the last decade.  He also used meteorological analyses provided by NASA’s Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Here is Dessler explaining the study in a short video:

As Dessler notes of the cloud feedback issue, “There’s never been a measurement of that using observations.”

Dessler put together a more technical videos — with charts — explaining the study:

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, is one of the leading experts on cloud modeling.  He had been critical of some recent studies on the cloud feedback effect, so I asked for his thoughts on this study.  He replied:

The work is sound and is a very useful contribution.  It is a foil to some of the misleading work that Richard Lindzen has published (and which we have shown is wrong).  Kudos to Andy Dessler for trying to do this and doing it as well as it can be done.

He also offered some advice for improving the study, which I passed on to Dessler, and made the point about “the preliminary nature of the result owing to the short data record and the weather noise.”

Lindzen has been pushing the “clouds are a negative feedback” theory with bad analysis for a long time — see Lindzen debunked again: New scientific study finds his paper downplaying dangers of human-caused warming is “seriously in error”;  Trenberth: The flaws in Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got.”

Lindzen isn’t the only discredited disinformer desperately trying to push back against the tide of scientific analysis and observations.  Science magazine’s story, “El Niño Lends More Confidence to Strong Global Warming,” notes:

[Dessler’s] result is “convincing evidence” that—at least on the scale of decades—clouds do not counter warming, says climate researcher Brian Soden of the University of Miami in Florida….

“This is a very important check of the models,” says climate researcher Qiang Fu of the University of Washington, Seattle. “It shows no evidence of a large negative cloud feedback.” But climate researcher Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, disagrees. He published one of the two papers finding evidence of a strongly negative cloud feedback. He finds in his own analyses signs that Dessler is seeing not only cloud changes caused by temperature changes but also temperature changes caused by natural cloud fluctuations. Such effects garble the true negative feedback beyond recognition, he says.

Spencer’s “interpretation is wrong,” says Soden, but even if Spencer were right that there’s a cause-and-effect problem, Dessler’s method of comparing observations and models “eliminates some possibilities, such as the models being egregiously wrong. It’s about as good as we can do with current data sets.”

Few of the climate science disinformers have been as wrong — dead wrong — as Spencer for as long.  He famously made a bunch of analytical blunders and spent years pushing the now long-overturned notion that the satellite data didn’t show significant warming (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“).  As RealClimate explained:

We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

So after that history, we’re supposed to savor all Roy’s new cookery?

So I think the working assumption should be that when Spencer pushes some convoluted new analysis to justify his views, it’s more cookery — an assumption that has so far stood the test of time as Spencer’s claims have grown more absurd over time [see The Great Global Warming Blunder: Roy Spencer asserts (and Morano parrots), “I predict that the proposed cure for global warming – reducing greenhouse gas emissions – will someday seem as outdated as using leeches to cure human illnesses.” Uhh, guys, doctors still use medicinal leeches!]

Yet more outrageous charges can be found in Spencer’s latest blog, “The Dessler Cloud Feedback Paper in Science: A Step Backward for Climate Research.”  Dessler easily swats aside the substance of what Spencer says in a new post on RC:

Dr. Spencer is arguing that clouds are causing ENSO [El Niño southern oscillation] cycles, so the direction of causality in my analysis is incorrect and my conclusions are in error.After reading this, I initiated a cordial and useful exchange of e-mails with Dr. Spencer (you can read the full e-mail exchange here). We ultimately agreed that the fundamental disagreement between us is over what causes ENSO. Short paraphrase:

Spencer: ENSO is caused by clouds. You cannot infer the response of clouds to surface temperature in such a situation.

Dessler: ENSO is not caused by clouds, but is driven by internal dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere system. Clouds may amplify the warming, and that’s the cloud feedback I’m trying to measure.

My position is the mainstream one, backed up by decades of research. This mainstream theory is quite successful at simulating almost all of the aspects of ENSO.

Dr. Spencer, on the other hand, is as far out of the mainstream when it comes to ENSO as he is when it comes to climate change. He is advancing here a completely new and untested theory of ENSO — based on just one figure in one of his papers (and, as I told him in one of our e-mails, there are other interpretations of those data that do not agree with his interpretation).

Thus, the burden of proof is Dr. Spencer to show that his theory of causality during ENSO is correct. He is, at present, far from meeting that burden. And until Dr. Spencer satisfies this burden, I don’t think anyone can take his criticisms seriously.

It’s also worth noting that the picture I’m painting of our disagreement (and backed up by the e-mail exchange linked above) is quite different from the picture provided by Dr. Spencer on his blog. His blog is full of conspiracies and purposeful suppression of the truth. In particular, he accuses me of ignoring his work. But as you can see, I have not ignored it — I have dismissed it because I think it has no merit. That’s quite different.

Snap!

Spencer goes the full X-Files — hey, folks said I was using “jump the shark” too much — on his blog:

Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.

I suspect – but have no proof of it – that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.

This is tinfoil-hat stuff.

No single scientific paper — not even a major one like this — could possibly influence the meeting in Cancun, which is the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), not IPCC!  There are hundreds and hundreds of scientific papers that provide more than enough motivation to act — including more than three dozen in the last year alone, see “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice” and “Royal Society special issue details ‘hellish vision’ of 7°F (4°C) world — which we may face in the 2060s!

Dessler writes:

I would also like to respond to his accusation that the timing of the paper is somehow connected to the IPCC’s meeting in Cancun. I can assure everyone that no one pressured me in any aspect of the publication of this paper. As Dr. Spencer knows well, authors have no control over when a paper ultimately gets published.

In fact, the key phrase Spencer uses is one that pretty much sums up his entire body of work, especially his claims that the climate sensitivity is low:  “I … have no proof of it.”

Related Post:

Climate Progress

Lamont Not Likely to Challenge Lieberman

December 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

After two unsuccessful statewide campaigns in four years, Ned Lamont (D) says he is “strongly disinclined” to challenge Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012, CT Mirror reports.

Said Lamont: “Four years ago, I couldn’t get anybody to challenge Joe Lieberman. It looked like an impossible race. Four years later, there’s going to be a number of good folks ready to make the challenge.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Saturday funeral likely for Elizabeth Edwards

December 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina (CNN) – Family and trusted friends are huddled together planning details for Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral.

One of them tells CNN the service will be in Chapel Hill, likely on Saturday.  The close and trusted family friend said that the former wife of 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards mapped out a lot of the details before her passing.

Edwards died on Tuesday after a prolonged battle with breast cancer.  She was 61 years old.

John Moylan worked with both Edwards in the husband’s White House bids in 2004, as a vice presidential nominee, and in 2008.  Amid the Edwards’ brushes with success – and scandal – Moylan remained close with the family.

In talking to CNN about a likely Saturday funeral, Moylan stressed there were not yet firm details.  He also said it’s not yet certain whether any reporters, including a TV crew, would be allowed inside the service.

Moylan was not inside the family home at the exact time of Elizabeth Edwards’ passing. He was there shortly after.  He described to CNN the mood in the house.

“I think there’s understandable sadness over Elizabeth’s death.  But I think it was a remarkable display of strength,” Moylan said.

“Elizabeth did a great job in preparing her children and her family for this day.”

Moylan also said that the Edwards’ two young children, Jack and Emma Claire, were sent to school on Tuesday – after their mother’s death – to maintain a sense of normalcy.

The couple had two other children: Cate, an adult, and Wade, who died in 1996 in a car accident.

Moylan said a photo of Wade was at Elizabeth Edwards’ bedside when she passed.  Though Moylan said it had long been there.

John Edwards was there in the final moments of his former wife’s life.

Moylan explained to CNN that the former presidential candidate is dealing with the loss – and what his focus is going forward.

“John is focusing all of his energy and attention on the children.  Which I think is the appropriate thing for him to be doing,” Moylan said.


CNN Political Ticker

What the tax deal is likely to do to the economy

December 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Macroeconomic Advisers — one of the leading economic forecasting firms — runs the tax deal through their model:

There are three major components that we had not assumed [in our 2011 baseline], and that would, in fact, together significantly impact the economic outlook over the next few years. First is the extension of emergency unemployment compensation through December 2011. In total this would add roughly $ 56 billion to personal disposable income through early 2012. Second is the one-year, two-percentage-point payroll tax reduction for employees that would add approximately $ 120 billion to disposable income in 2011. It should be noted, however, that the administration dropped its proposal that the Making Work Pay refundable tax credit be extended permanently, something we had also assumed in our forecast. Therefore, the net effect on disposable income in 2011 is only roughly $ 60 billion, relative to our forecast. Third is the new expensing and bonus depreciation through 2012 that would reduce corporate taxes by roughly $ 170 billion through 2012, with roughly $ 140 billion of that subsequently recaptured by the federal government because of smaller depreciation deductions in later years.

Based upon what is currently known of these three key proposals, our preliminary analysis suggests that GDP growth in 2011 would be boosted by roughly ½ to ¾ percentage point. This is on top of the 3.7% growth of GDP anticipated for 2011 in our recently published forecast. Growth in 2012 could also be expected to be several tenths of a percentage point higher, with modest drag on growth in 2013, as the temporary provisions expire.







Ezra Klein

Details being mapped out for likely Saturday funeral for Elizabeth Edwards

December 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina (CNN) – Family and trusted friends are huddled together planning details for Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral.

One of them tells CNN the service will be in Chapel Hill, likely on Saturday. The close and trusted family friend said that the former wife of 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards mapped out a lot of the details before her passing.

Edwards died on Tuesday after a prolonged battle with breast cancer. She was 61 years old.

John Moylan worked with both Edwards in the husband’s White House bids in 2004, as a vice presidential nominee, and in 2008. Amid the Edwards’ brushes with success – and scandal – Moylan remained close with the family.

In talking to CNN about a likely Saturday funeral, Moylan stressed there were not yet firm details. He also said it’s not yet certain whether any reporters, including a TV crew, would be allowed inside the service.

Moylan was not inside the family home at the exact time of Elizabeth Edwards’ passing. He was there shortly after. He described to CNN the mood in the house.

“I think there’s understandable sadness over Elizabeth’s death. But I think it was a remarkable display of strength,” Moylan said.

“Elizabeth did a great job in preparing her children and her family for this day.”

Moylan also said that the Edwards’ two young children, Jack and Emma Claire, were sent to school on Tuesday to maintain a sense of normalcy.

The couple had two other children: Cate, an adult, and Wade, who died in 1996 in a car accident.

Moylan said a photo of Wade was at Elizabeth Edwards’ bedside when she passed. Though Moylan said it had long been there.

John Edwards was there in the final moments of his former wife’s life.

Moylan explained to CNN that the former presidential candidate is dealing with the loss – and what his focus is going forward.

“John is focusing all of his energy and attention on the children. Which I think is the appropriate thing for him to be doing,” Moylan said.


CNN Political Ticker

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