Monday, August 19, 2019

Today Is National Photography Day

To celebrate, here's one I took yesterday southwest of Augusta, Kansas.

An Attempt to Propagandize Federal Judges Involved in Global Warming Litigation

Investigative Report
(c) 2019 Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC

In an otherwise ordinary news story about judicial etiquette, I stumbled across these disturbing nuggets about what appears to be an attempt to propagandize federal judges in advance of hearing cases pertaining to climate and the environment.  While I recommend reading the entire article, my concern focused on the following two items:
  • As of Tuesday morning, [Judge] Randolph was listed as one of three-judges to hear arguments Sept. 6 in a case brought by California and more than a dozen other states challenging an Environmental Protection Agency decision to scrap some vehicle emissions standards.
  • Randolph viewed it differently saying in his memo that judges attending a climate science program put on by the Environmental Law Institute [my emphasis] "lend credence to one side of the climate change debate that is quite improper" because of a host of litigation on the issue.
As I read this, my alarm bells went off. After looking into it, my conclusion is these seminars are cause for genuine concern. 

Let's start with the people who are putting on these seminars. It is called the "Environmental Law Institute."
"Educating Judges for the Climate Litigation of Today and Tomorrow." Doesn't that, by itself, seem odd to you? Do judges pre-educate themselves on, say, auto-mechanics or brain concussions, which are also subjects of litigation?

The rationale for the seminar is stated here:
Some months back, I received a visit from two leaders in the climate science and sustainable energy arena: the former present of Climate Central, Paul Hanle, and David van Hoogstraten, who had just left his position as director of federal environmental regulatory affairs at BP America. 

David and Paul had been following the trends in climate -related lawsuits and, through communications with the judicial community, had been advised that judges often feel insufficiently grounded in climate science...

Since when it is the job of judges to be "grounded in climate science"? In fact, judges are supposed to make decisions based on what is presented by the parties within the courtroom. Judges often instruct juries that they are to make their decisions based solely on what the parties involved present during the case.
In climate litigation, both the plaintiff and defendant are allowed to present experts which can be questioned and cross examined by all concerned. If there is concern about the expert(s), the parties can request a "Daubert Hearing (DH)." In a DH, which is held in open court, the judge must insure the expert's opinions are informed by genuine science. I did quite a lot of expert testimony during my career and I have been the subject of DH's -- and, they are grueling. As they should be.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), says it is "non-partisan" which means they do not favor Republicans or Democrats. That does not mean they are neutral. Per its own list of staff, ELI does not employ atmospheric or climate scientists. So, one can count on them receiving course materials from Climate Central (which is why I suspect CC approached ELI) which is rabidly on the side of catastrophic global warming. Climate Central, in turn, is funded by a number of groups with liberal political ties.

This is an attempt to color the thinking of judges before climate-related litigation even begins.

Let's try a thought experiment: Suppose Exxon, Chevron and BritishPetroleum announced they were establishing a similar "Environmental Center For Judges' Education in Climate Science." Do you think Democrats or the Progressives would be comfortable with that? Do you think they would believe it would produce fairer trials consistent with an impartial justice system?

Of course not.

Prior to stumbling upon the above article Friday afternoon, I had never heard of the Environmental Law Institute and that it was attempting to pre-educate federal judges about global warming. I wonder how many other similar programs are out there and what effect, if any, they have on our judiciary?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Good To Know the People Telling Us to Cut Our Carbon Footprints Are 'Doing Their Part'

Details here.

Now, they are up to FOUR trips. This is updated Monday afternoon at 12:30 CDT.
Sir Elton John takes issue with the Mail shining the light on their hypocrisy. He writes:
I had never before heard of "Carbon Footprint" (CF). They are here. It is a website that purports to calculate peoples' carbon footprints and not much more. You could donate a million to CF and it would not make all of these private jet flights 'carbon neutral.' John and the Royal Family are hypocrites with regard to global warming and nothing more.

Look, I'd travel by private jet (in a heartbeat!) if I could afford it. But, then, I don't go around telling everyone else they need to cut their carbon footprints.

As Dr. Glenn Reynolds says: I'll believe global warming is a crisis when the people telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis. 

Last Week's Rainfall, Central U.S.

Here is the rainfall for the 7-days ending at 7am CDT this morning.
click to enlarge

Sunday Fun: Have They Gone Through TSA Screening?

Classic "Hook" Echo Over the Flint Hills

Several tornadoes occurred in the Kansas Flint Hills Thursday evening. I was so busy I didn't get the chance to post this at the time. On the left is one of the most classic "hook echoes" (a radar signature of a tornado) you'll ever see. On the right is the Doppler wind data. There is a "couplet" that reveals the concentrated, rotating winds of the tornado (circled).

Both the hook and the tornado it represented came and went quickly.

Friday, August 16, 2019

$5 Credit on "Warnings"

Amazon appears to be offering a $5 credit that can be used on the ebook version of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. With the coupon, it is only $4.50. The ebook version has additional photos we were not able to get into the hardcover version.
You do not need a Kindle to read the ebook version. You can read it on your iPhone or iPad with their Kindle app or on your laptop or desktop with the free Kindle Cloud Reader.
Upload it now and you can read it this weekend. 

One More Time: Hurricanes Are Not Getting More Frequent

Here is the definitive presentation as to tropical storm and hurricane frequency since the beginning of the satellite era (i.e., so that all storms, even in remote areas, are detected).
As you can see for yourself, there simply is no upward trend.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Update: Kansas Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Threat

click to enlarge
If you live in the yellow area, please keep up on the weather after 5pm. Within the orange area any thunderstorms could produce a tornado, giant hail and thunderstorm-generated wind gusts up to 75 mph.

Power failures are possible in the orange area so I recommend charging you laptop and smartphone now. If your car is super low on fuel and/or you want to obtain some cash better to do it now than after power fails.

For additional information, please follow me on Twitter @usweatherexpert.

Great Plains Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Threat

For our many readers in this area, there is a threat of tornadoes, large hail, and damaging thunderstorm-related winds in the outlined area through 3am. 

UPDATE: 11:40am. The NWS's Storm Prediction Center evidently is now seeing the same things I have been.
Orange is the highest probability area for giant hail and thunderstorm wind gusts of 75 mph or more. The yellow area may have hail greater than 1" and gusts to 60 mph or more. There is also a chance of tornadoes, especially in the orange area.

SECOND UPDATE, 7:20A Friday. There is a video of some of the tornadoes here. My forecast was too far west. It would have been much better if it had been shifted ~50 miles east. I'd give this one a C+. Actual reports are below. Unfortunately, some of the tornado reports are missing. 

More And More, Eisenhower's "Second Warning" Is Coming True

Ike and Mamie Eisenhower at the White House
Via Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas 
In his farewell address, President Eisenhower gave our nation two warnings. Although we usually only hear about one of them, both have proven prescient:
  • The caution about the "military-industrial complex" becomes more dire all of the time. We are far overextended in the Middle East. From what I can tell, many in the military like it that way (people in combat tend to get promoted more than during times of peace) and the weapons suppliers grow their already-large businesses (even though some of those weapons are extraordinarily expensive and are of dubious value). The media periodically mentions this warning from Eisenhower, so at least the citizenry is aware. 
  • The far less well known warning is the one about what I call "Big Science." We almost never hear of it. 
As a technology publication put it last year:

President Eisenhower surrounded himself with brilliant academics, he knew that science ended World War II without costing another million American lives, but by 1961 he also knew “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”
He worried about that government control over funding would change the nature of the “free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery.” And it has. If you want to find happiness in an academia, find a humanities professor at a small college. If you want to find pressure, go to a biology lab at Johns Hopkins, which needs $300 million a year from the NIH if it’s going to put up new buildings and recruit key names who can then raise more money from NIH.
I bring this up because more and more are noticing what is a serious issue for the future of our children and grandchildren. Without innovation, it will be nearly impossible to maintain or improve the standard of living for them and for the rest of the world. More than that, these days, scientists themselves are actively calling for censorship and muting of dissident voices

With this in mind, I have two thoughts that I believe are worth sharing.
  1. From a policy standpoint, how do we encourage entrepreneurs, especially in science, technology and engineering? I am not talking about another silly iPhone game app. I'm talking about things that will matter. 
  2. How we do fund large projects other than directly through government (e.g., National Academy of Science)? 
Regarding the second thought, some universities seem reluctant to obtain funding from large companies, the obvious source of funding for large projects. Okay, that's fine, I suppose. 

But how about this? The large universities either directly fund research from their (tax-free) endowments or those endowments become taxable? Otherwise, what are they for? 

The top four university endowments total more than $100,000,000,000! You can fund a lot of research with that kind of dough. 

In my perfect world, to encourage outside the box thinking, the universities would appoint a committee of independent business people and innovators who would make the grants so, to the extent possible, they money would go to genuine innovation and not be subject to the intense pressure toward the "political correctness" large universities seem to enjoy applying to themselves.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Big Climate Publishes Its 'Enemies' List

Many of us have been expecting this. 
Over the last six months, I've written a number of articles (here and here, for two of them) about how the field of climate studies is no longer primarily about science and is thus not worthy of that moniker.

Now Nature, which claims to be the world's premier scientific journal, has referenced a list of climate enemies, err, "contrarians." My [sarcasm] favorite words [sarc off] in the article are,

A third decisive technological factor is the paradigm of new media and the nearly boundless scalability of content distribution across the internet. Even in the case where individuals have complete control in choosing their sources of information, they are nevertheless susceptible to significant disparities in content production in addition to being susceptible to media coverage that is disproportionate to the authority and number of scientists holding the consensus viewpoint. ...

[I guess they view freedom of speech as a bad thing.]

These results [that skeptics, including those with PhD's in climate, are getting informally published] demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.

Really? Think about the totality of what you have read about climate recently: You aren't sufficiently informed as to what "consensus" climate opinion says?

Later the article says,

To address this literature gap, we focus our analysis on a group of 386 prominent contrarians, denoted both individually and collectively by CCC.

The link to the "group" is not in the article itself. Here is the list. It was compiled by, published on Twitter, and is courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue. I now understand why Nature didn't directly link to the list: it is hilarious. On the same list as distinguished scientists like Dr. Ross McKitrick, Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., and Dr. Judith Curry are Vice President Mike Pence and Alex Jones (Alex Jones??).

Evidently, Nature cannot tell the difference between politicians and genuine climate scientists. And, to be in its climate clique one must toe the party line and at least profess to believe that global warming is the functional equivalent to a moon-sized asteroid striking the earth (by the way, we foolishly spend far more on global warming than asteroid defense). The fact that the PhD's listed have hundreds of peer-reviewed papers about climate in prestigious journals apparently does not matter to Nature.

This is not how a legitimate science behaves. Not even close. 

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., has already sent a demand for correction:
Via Twitter
I don't see how this will get any better as long as Big Climate dominates the field. There are far too many institutional forces that depend on global warming panic to keep their funding. What possible incentive does a university's 'climate science institute' have to disprove the "consensus," given that doing so will, a) create ridicule, b) lead to ostracism, and, c) kill the funding of the institute?

So, since we are told, "the science is settled," I recommend the U.S. government cut its funding of the study of climate by 80% and the remaining 20% (still a large number) be directed by an independent board composed of prominent members of the climate study field with a wide variety of views.

When Are We Going to Get Serious About Asteroid Defense?

Jupiter was hit Wednesday.

Those Huge Yachts Really Cut Your Carbon Footprint!

More and more whole point of the global warming movement, as another person tweeted last week, is for extraordinarily rich people to flout their carbon footprints at the best of us.

Monday, August 12, 2019

One More Time: Hurricane Names

Now that we are, statistically, getting into the thick of hurricane season (until mid-October) we have to wade through what seems to be the inevitable annual silliness regarding hurricane names.

From last week's Wall Street Journal:
entire article at the purple link, may be behind a paywall
The gist of the article is that hurricanes should be named after men rather than after women. The author writes,

I started to wonder if the unimposing names we give hurricanes might be inadvertently causing people not to evacuate. 
Sure enough, a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study found the death tolls from hurricanes with feminine names tend to be higher than from those with masculine names. The scientists hypothesized that male names are scarier than female ones and tested it by asking subjects to estimate the intensity of hypothetical storms. Sure enough, they expected Dolly to be weaker than Omar. 
Okay, I'm not sure that Hurricane Mata Hari would be viewed as less dangerous than Hurricane Bruce but this is well-intended and should be taken into consideration.

But, then, the article goes off the rails:

It’s high time the WMO updated its names. One solution would be to name storms after predators—say, Tiger or Shark. If Omar is scarier then Dolly, Shark is surely scarier than Omar. Or maybe the WMO can take inspiration from horror films. Tropical storm Poltergeist. Hurricane Slasher. Or Demon, Devil, Jaws, Chucky...
So naming a Category 5 storm with winds of 156 mph Annie is not a good idea. It’s a lot like putting a rose rather than a skull and crossbones on a bottle of poison.
I often wonder why people who write articles like this (he is an advertising person from Cleveland) don't bother to research the history of hurricane naming before they make these suggestions? Let me briefly recap:

During World War II, U.S. military meteorologists named hurricanes after their girlfriends. The naming was popularized in George R. Stewart's best seller Storm. It rapidly caught on because it was a lot earlier to remember "Hurricane Betsy" than "than hurricane located at 74.4°W and 19.1°N." Since all hurricanes were named after women, the "men's names are more scary than women's names" was not a consideration. The U.S. military, after the war, gave hurricanes names like "Dog" and they found those were less memorable than using women's names.

Jimmy Carter was elected President in 1977. He selected Juanita Krepps as his Secretary of Commerce (DoC). The U.S. National Weather Service is under the DoC. Like everyone else who seems to touch this topic, she didn't bother to research the history of hurricane naming. Either she was told or someone got the idea that "hurricanes are named after women because they, like women, are unpredictable." She then ordered that hurricanes must also be named after men.

While we weren't as good at forecasting hurricanes then as we are today, the meteorologists who did a fantastic job of forecasting monster hurricanes like Carla (1964) and Camille (1969) were shocked and insulted to learn the Secretary of the DoC Krepps (their boss) thought hurricanes were "unpredictable."

In spite of almost yearly suggestions to change the naming system, the naming system has remained the same since the 1970's.

So, what are the issues with naming weak hurricanes after women and strong hurricanes after men as the article recommends?
  • The names have to be decided years in advance (I won't go into all of the reasons why).
  • We don't know in 2019 whether the fourth tropical system of 2023 will be a weak tropical storm or a monster like Andrew. 
  • Most importantly, there is no such thing as a 'weak' tropical storm or hurricane. All genuine hurricanes (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) have dangerous, damaging winds. But, many tropical storms, while they have weaker winds (but often enough to cause power failures) produce serious flooding rains.  
As indicated above, there is, perhaps, merit in naming storms exclusively after men or women. 

Beyond that, meteorologists have an incredibly difficult task at trying to educate and reeducate a highly mobile population the differences between hurricane watch, hurricane warning, tropical storm watch, tropical storm warning, storm surge watch, storm surge warning, flood watch, flash flood warning etc., etc. Changing the naming system every few years (as the publications that publish these articles seem to desire, perhaps because they sell newspapers) to one that is supposedly correlated to storm intensity will make a very difficult job virtually impossible. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

"Particularly Dangerous Situation" In Northern Kansas and Southern Nebraska

This is an exceedingly rare type of severe thunderstorm watch.
So, tornadoes are possible along with wind gusts of 85 mph. Two inch hail driven by winds of that nature can cause severe damage. Power failures likely. 

Attention: Nebraska and Kansas

If you are in Nebraska along/south of I-80 and Kansas along/north of I-70, it could be a night of dangerous winds and large hail. Graphic via NWS SPC.

Here is the radar as of 9:20pm CDT. This cluster is forecast to grow in size and move east during the night.

UPDATE: 9:40pm, severe thunderstorm watch for wind gusts to 85 mph and a "couple of tornadoes" in effect until 5am.

Tornado and Damaging Wind Risk Late This Afternoon and Tonight

First, the two tornado risk areas (in brown).
Each area has a significant risk of tornadoes.

In addition, the hatched red areas have the potential for wind gusts in excess of 75 mph.
Please prepare accordingly and monitor reliable sources for storm warnings.

Sunday Fun: Only in Florida

Wacky Florida.
The full story is here.