Tuesday, September 24, 2013



Namazu , giant Japanese catfish and former demigod, now Dean of the Namazu School of Climatology





EDITOR"S NOTE: Vic Socotra is our occasional guest blogger who first introduced us to Namazu the giant catfish who is fast becoming a star of stage, screen, the blogosphere, fine arts, and outer space. Are you reading your Daily Socotra? We never miss it and neither does Namazu. You can read your Daily Socotra at www.vicsocotra.com

24 September 2013

Pick a Side

I was pecking away at something much safer- real life and death in human scale- but I saw a column the other day on the vast amount of out-of-state cash pouring into Virginia that made me sensitive to those insert ads that I saw on several sites as I scanned the morning  rants. Here is one: 
It is not strange to see these sorts of things on mainstream media outlets- the President was inviting me to dinner from a banner ad on AOL for months during the campaign, though I never actually got an invite- but I thought it was curious to see it also osome of the conservative websites. It appears to be part of a major campaign, a flood across the internet. The reason seems fairly clear: it is about painting the GOP candidate for Governor of Virginia as a know-nothing, pro-coal, anti-science Neanderthal, meaning no disrespect to our species former in-laws.  

I am not a fan of some of Mr. Cuccinelli's litigation as the Attorney General, and oppose his social agenda, though I have admired his energy. As far as I know, the only out-and-out crook in the race is carpetbagger and crony capitalist Terry McAulliffe, whose scams in renewable cars (or whatever) have produced no actual vehicles, but transferred millions from the public coffers for him and his pals.  

Cuccinelli and McAuliffe have been running close in the polls, but McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, had $6 million in cash on hand as of June 30, to Cuccinelli’s nearly $2.7 million. Since then, millions more have flooded in from the Democrat and Republican Governor's associations. According to NPR this morning, this is a first: both candidates are getting the majority of their campaign donations from out of state and both national political parties are investing heavily in our swing-state race.

The reason so many groups are spending big on Virginia is because we truly are the only game in town this year- The New Jersey race seems to be firmly in Chris Christy's ample bag. Some wag yesterday said he was in the running to be the most popular Democrat in the country, just behind Mrs. Clinton.

Now, I am not completely sure what it is the Governor of Virginia has got to do with global climate change, exactly, except for taking a state position on supporting hydrocarbon extraction and perhaps endorsing nuclear power, but I think a reasonable person might suspect "not much." 

As best I can determine, one of the arguments is that the low-lying Tidewater region of Virginia is prone to flooding, that is as true today as it was in 1609. The implication, though, is that anyone skeptical of dramatic sea-level rise must be in favor of drowning the people of Norfolk. It seems sort of...well...loony.

OK, here is where we veer off into the religion of climate change. As a Green pal noted the other day, we are way beyond rational discourse on the subject. But I have to say that the "settled science" of massive sea level rise is anything but that.Here is the state of revealed truth: the National Geographic ran a cover with the Statue of Liberty immersed up to her waist in sea water; which would reflect an actual rise in the seas of about 214 feet. That is pretty shocking, and at a mean sea level trend of 2.77 millimeters per year, could happen in as little as 23,537.9 years. 

I know, I know, the cover is intended to be a metaphor about why we have to Do Something Right Away, but forgive me if yawn a bit. Is it my imagination, but since the sea ice in the arctic is up 60% this year from last, and the antarctic expanse is at record high levels, the level of alarm has gotten a little strident?

And besides, since the Virginia governor is limited to only four years, I doubt that this election has much to do with sea-level rise, so it appears there is something else going on. Accordingly, I wanted to know who the  the "NextGen Climate Action Committee" might be, and why they are so interested in Virginia.

Here is what I found, and it connects directly to the exaggerated alarm in the once-respected National Geographic. There is a non-crisis in sea levels. But here are some of the talking points that come directly from the NextGen Climate Action Committee.

"Climate Change By the Numbers:

  • 5 feet: Amount scientists expect sea levels to rise even if we take drastic and immediate measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: Nature Climate Change, June 2012)
  • 6 million: Number of Americans who live less than 5 feet above local high tide. (Source: The New York Times)
  • 100 million: Number of people worldwide who live in areas below sea level or subject to storm surges. (Source: United Nations University)
  • 10,000 square miles: Area of land that will be wiped out in the United States alone if sea levels rise 2 feet. (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
  • 2012: The hottest year in 117 years of recorded U.S. climate data. (Source: ClimateWatch Magazine, Nov. 2012)
  • 19.2 million: Number of officially recognized “persons of concern,” who have already been displaced by environment-related disasters. (Source: United Nations University)
  • 5: Number of climate-damaging greenhouse-gas emitting industries (agriculture, transportation, waste, building, and the energy sector) that must be scaled back dramatically “if the world is to have a running chance of keeping a global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius [35.6 degrees Fahrenheit] this century.” (Source: United Nations Environment Programme, Nov. 2012)
  • 150,000: Number of deaths per year worldwide that are related to climate change. (Source: World Health Organization)"
Pretty alarming, right? And pretty imminent, I guess. I remember the Navy trying something like this in one of the eternal budget struggles with the Army and Air Force to demonstrate that most of the people on the earth live near navigable water. All true. The water is why we are there. If we are going to be inundated, maybe we ought to think about moving? We only have a few tens of thousands of years to prepare.

The problem is that once you get past the first bullet, you get to all sorts of idle conjecture and what-ifs. So, if the first bit of it is wrong, then the rest is nonsense. 

Five feet in a century is a little more human scale, but there is a mass of information that refutes the estimate of "five feet" of sea level rise in some unspecified amount of time. 

Let's cut to the chase: the organization most invested in the idea of catatrophic climate change is the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is to issue it's fifth comprehensive report in the next week or so. There are some real problems with the accuracy of their predictions, to wit, actual observed temperatures have remained well below ALL the computer models, and we are going to be forced to deal with it shortly. But here is what they say: 

"The IPCC stated in 2007, “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 mm per year.” 

That is higher than the mean between the two rates, but fine. Let's take their more alarming estimate. It translates to a 100-year rise of 12 inches at the most, far below the dire predictions of the five feet rise that will drown us all if we don't elect the right Governor. 

But come on. Three millimeters is about the thickness of two dimes. Do you think scientists really measure a change in sea level over the course of a year, averaged across the world, which is two dimes thick? I won't cite the mass of information on continental uplift, tectonic shaft and all the rest of the things that affect sea level measurement. By any objective standard, nothing significant will happen in the course of our lifetimes, or that of our kids. Or theirs, for that matter.

This is a crisis now because....? 

Well, Sharon Smith, North American Coordinator of NextGen Climate thinks we ought to just get on with it, whether it is true or not.

Sharon Smith is the human face of the NextGen Climate Action Committee, which naturally has links to the 350.org crowd. That is the organization that was founded by Bill McKibben to build a global grassroots movement to raise awareness of the coming really big crisis. The name is derived from the estimate of former NASA chief climate scientist James Hansen, who famously claimed in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million of the trace greenhouse gas carbon dioxide represents the tipping point at which the climate would spin upward, out of control. That was 50PPM ago, if you take the readings at the Mauna Loa Observatory at face value. 

Dr. Hansen is one of my favorites in the alarmist community, since he had control of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) temperature data base. One of his earnest efforts was to take the recorded temperatures from long ago and revise them, according to statistical norms he devised himself. The 1930s of the Dust Bowl days had hotter temperatures and more violent weather than we have today, or at least they used to, but Dr. Hansen decided that it wasn't, and adjusted the historical record accordingly to more accurately reflect his convictions of doom.

But even Dr. Hansen is puzzled by what is going on. Earlier this year, the good Doctor had to admit: "The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for the last decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slow down in the growth rate of net climate forcing."

OK. I got it. Scientists test theories, and when they don't work, they look for the reasons why. There are real problems with the simple (and much repeated) thesis that Carbon Dioxide Causes Warming, since apparently it can take a break for reasons no one fully understands. As I mentioned to my pal the other day, after he accused me of being a shill for Big Oil: "This is beyond a scientific argument, and we are now in the region of religion."

That is true at NextGen. The masthead of the Action Committee features a number of pleasant and diverse faces, none of whom have any particular credentials on science or climate. 

Sharon Smith's bio cites numerous accomplishments: "author of The Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement and Changing the World and is an organizer and trainer active in social change movements for global justice, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Sharon has worked with student networks to achieve landmark environmental victories in the logging and finance sectors and has trained thousands of youth in advocacy for social change.....She completed her graduate studies at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she was selected as a Switzer Fellow and a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow. She is passionate about nurturing leadership at the heart of movements for social justice and environmental sustainability."

Sharon is not a techie nor a scientist, but she does care. And she is bankrolled by this fellow:

Tom Steyer coughed up the cash that NextGen is flooding Virginia from his roost on the West Coast. Tom is the 56-year-old billionare and founder and co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C., one of the country’s most successful investment firms.

Farallon® was founded in 1986 and has been "a registered investment adviser with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission since 1990. We invest globally across asset classes, seeking to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns through a process of bottom-up fundamental analysis that emphasizes capital preservation." 

You can see the natural link to....well, I don't. I have pals who get apoplectic at the mention of the evil Koch Brothers, but Tom has them beat to hell. This is a rich guy who serves other rich people who have dined at the public trough in the great financial scam, the exclusive party to which only Wall Street and the revolving door bureaucrats were invited while all the rest of us picked up the tab.

Tom and his wife Kat Taylor could not be more 1%, in fact, they epitomize it. They have nothing in common with the 99.9 percent of us below them on the food chain. They joined Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and other high-wealth Americans in the “Giving Pledge,” a promise to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable and nonprofit activities during their lifetimes.

Tom and Kat are also the founders of the Oakland, California community development One PacificCoast Bank, the mission of which is "to build prosperity in our communities through beneficial banking services delivered in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner." I think that is a swell goal and Oakland certainly needs it. I have not seen a branch in Culpeper, though.   Tom graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale and received his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Smart people, I grant, and committed to fundamentally changing the world that has blessed them so richly. I sort of like the one in which I live, which appears to have an astonishing variability and is much more complex than even the equally smart scientists really understand. 

But like I say, this is about religion, not science. I think that If a theory has problems, you really ought to be challenged on the matter of the facts. That is something called the scientific method.The Oxford English Dictionary defines that process as: "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."

We are not doing much of that lately: like NextGen, we operate on Big Change based on Revealed Truth.

Ms. Smith and Tom both went to Yale. Are the Old Elis the link in the chain? 

I don't know. Beats me. Wake me up in 23,500 years and let's see who was right. I think we have time.

Reprinted with permission:
Copyright 2013 Vic Socotra
Twitter: @jayare303

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