J.C. Moore Online
Current Events from a Science Perspective

Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

Global Warming: Alarmism Versus Denial

Sat ,19/02/2022

Fossil fuel companies knew in 1979 that carbon dioxide emissions would cause the Earth to warm, creating undesirable consequences for the Earth. By 1981, the Exxon scientist concluded that the burning of fossil fuels could be catastrophic for some of the world’s population by 2030. The choice between huge profits and the possibility of harming the Earth and its inhabitants was a tough ethical choice for Exxon’s scientists, but not so much for management. They launched a campaign to keep the truth hidden and to keep themselves from being regulated. Their main strategy was obfuscation and denial.

Evangelical Christians were some of the first to become concerned about how global warming would impact the Earth’s population, mainly the poor. Genesis 1:28 says, ” Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  Generally, those who argue for Christian stewardship think that “dominion” means “benevolent rule”. The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, in 2000, developed the Cornwall Doctrine. Its main goal was to address the challenges faced by indigenous communities and the poorer countries as they faced climate change.

In 2008, the Cornwall alliance was taken over by Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, a Dominionist, who interprets the scripture to mean “subdue and exploit”, an interpretation which is received quite favorable by oil companies. Beisner argues that we should take what we wish from the Earth, without regard to its effect upon the environment. As far as the catastrophic effect on some of the world’s population, Beisner assuages his conscience by claiming that efforts to limit carbon emissions are actually harming poor countries by denying them fossil fuels. Poor countries do not have the resources or the infrastructure to use fossil fuels and distributive energy sources, such as wind and solar, would be most useful to them. And, indigenous communities will be hurt the most. The way of life that has sustained them for centuries is now being disrupted by climate change.  They do not have the resources to withstand prolonged droughts or protect themselves from sea level rise or flooding.

Beisner uses religious arguments as the apparatus of justification to reach out to conservative Christians and solicit donations. There is little evidence that the money goes to the poor. Charity Navigator says, “This organization cannot be evaluated by our Encompass Rating methodology because it files Form 990-N, as allowed by the IRS for charities with less than $50,000 annual revenue.” The Cornwall Alliance is funded by dark money and there is no way to establish how much money it collects, who supports it, or how the money is used. Critics of the Cornwall Alliance have accused the organization of being a “front group for fossil fuel special interests,” citing its strong ties to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which in the past was funded by oil industry giants such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron. 

Beisner uses “climate alarmist”, in a pejorative way, to describe the 99.5% of climate scientists who know that climate change is caused by man’s activity. Of course, scientists are alarmed as Beisner, and others like him, are part of a disinformation campaign to keep governments from taking action on climate change. E Calvin Beisner does not like being called a “denier”, but denying scientific evidence is his main way of dealing with those “science alarmists”. And, he uses religious arguments to bolster his position.

Beisner is quite concerned that Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, is infringing on his territory. Dr. Hayhoe is a Canadian-born climate scientist now living in Texas. She is excellent at communicating complex ideas, and her website and her recent book, Saving Us, are excellent primers on climate change, understandable to a non-specialist audience. Her explanations are not just limited to science but extend to religion, politics, and behavioral psychology. I sent a copy of her book to E. Calvin Beisner. He sent me a nice thank you for the book and said he hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Along with the letter were enclosed, not one, or two, or three…., but nine articles criticizing Katharine Hayhoe. The articles claim she is entangled in climate idolatry, has no business venturing into theology, is a climate alarmist, is wrong about global warming affecting the weather, and implies she could not believe in God and also man-made global warming. Beisner is sure these are true, even though he has not read her book.

Beisner likes to use religious arguments, but his views are at odds with both religion and science. Apparently, he has very little understanding of ecology. Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, says that “climate change is real and mainly a result of human activity.” “The problem is urgent. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.” Beisner claims that Pope Francis was just wrong, probably news to most Catholics. Beisner’s position is even at odds with his own Presbyterian faith. The Presbyterian Church is now recommending divestment from fossil fuels and it was one of the first churches to address global warming. The Presbyterian Church first noted its “serious concern over global warming at the 1990 General Assembly, when it warned that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems’’.

E. Calvin Beisner is certainly right about one thing. Scientists are alarmed because they understand that we are beginning to reach a tipping point from which we will never recover. Scientific models claim we have till about 2030 to reduce our carbon emissions – or the oil companies’ early predictions of catastrophes will come true. Beisner often dismisses any predictions about the future made by scientists by claiming they are based on computer models. However, computers are the way we now store and process information and models are the way that scientists understand complex systems. And, the Cornwall Alliance serves as a good model for understanding global warming denial. 

(c) 2022 JC Moore – all rights reserved.

Winners of the 2017 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Sat ,25/01/2020
Earthrise2

Each year, this site takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame or the Environmental Hall of Shame.The year 2017 saw some real heroes and villains with respect to the environment. It is important that we recognize those who most affected the environment, for good or ill, by their words or actions. Below are the results of the balloting along with a suitable gift for each.

Hall Of Fame

1.The US Military – (35%) – for adapting renewable energy to big bases and for pointing out that global warming causes global instability. Their gift is having political leaders who respect their research.

2.  Jerry Brown, the governor of California – (26%) – for supporting strong environmental programs and for forming a coalition of 15 states to support the Paris climate. Gift: Several more states in his coalition.   

3. Norway – (22%) – for their investment in renewable energy and for their plans to cut the use of fossil fuels. Gift: Clean air for its citizens.

4: Elon Musk – (17%) – for developing the lithium ion batteries and for promoting electric vehicles. Gift: Spiraling upward stock prices.

Hall of Shame

1. President Donald Trump – (76%) – for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and for opening up public lands for exploitation by fossil fuel companies. Gift: A chance to rejoin the Paris  Agreement.

2. The USA – (14%) – Though it has 5% of the world’s population, it uses 25% of the world’s energy and has resisted reducing its energy use. Gift: A national social conscience.

3/4. Scott Pruitt – (5%) – Past EPA Director, for not accepting the science of global warming and for killing  policies which protected the public from pollution. Gift: Drinking water from a polluted stream.

3/4.   Rick Perry – (5%) – Past Secretary of Energy, for his spectacular turn around on renewable energy.   As Governor, he moved Texas to a top renewable energy producer. As Secretary of Energy, he adopted without remorse the role of promoting dirty forms of energy as his primary responsibility. Gift: May he be remembered for the former.

Note! My apologies for not posting this in a timely manner. I plan to catch up by taking a poll for 2018 and 2019.

A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

Tue ,27/03/2018

In the wake of Stephen Hawking’s death, many are remembering him for his renowned intellect and his great accomplishments. Diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, which few survive more than a few years, he lived to the age of 76. Though he became increasingly paralyzed and was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life, he explored the universe with his mind and imagination. Though he had great difficulty communicating, he wrote dozens of scientific papers, gave hundreds of lectures, and wrote A Short History of Time, one of the most popular books of this century. Though his book was understandable by nonscientists, many of Hawking’s theories on the nature of the universe, black holes, and time are understood only by our greatest theoretical physicists.

Stephen Hawking stands among the great scientists, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Madame Curie, and Einstein. Aristotle gave us a stable universe governed by the laws of nature, which could be understood by observation and reason. Galileo showed that when there was a conflict between science and religious dogma, we should follow science. Though theologians insisted that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System, Galileo  showed with scientific evidence that God made the Solar System with the Sun at the center. Newton discovered the force that held the planets in place and the laws that describe motion. Madame Curie developed  our understanding of radioactive elements, nuclear radiation, and x-rays.

Einstein showed that matter could be converted to energy, and he developed the interrelation between mass, time,  and distance. Einstein may have also save democracy. Though he was a pacifist, he realized the dangers of letting Nazi Germany be first to develop atomic weapons, and he convinced Roosevelt that we should do it first. Stephen Hawking also applied his great mind and his heart to man’s condition. If we’re going to honor him as one of the world’s greatest minds, then we should to pay attention to the lessons and values he spoke about during his time on this planet as noted by Care2Causes:

Climate Change: In Hawking’s later years, no topic seemed to stir him more than climate change. “We’re close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” he said. “The solutions are already known…  We must counter corporate greed and corrupt politicians NOW to give humanity a fighting chance.”

Public Health Care: Diagnosed with motor neurone disease, few survive as long as Hawking did. He credits his longevity to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK for giving him the care that would have been unaffordable in systems like those that exist in the United States.

Feminism: “I have always supported women’s rights,” said Hawking in an interview. When asked whether science had dictated his outlook on gender equality, he argued that it’s not a matter of science but “general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men.”

Assisted Suicide: Though Hawking seriously considered ending his own life in his young years, he ultimately decided to hold on. Still, that doesn’t mean it made him opposed to euthanasia altogether. He recognizes it as an important option to those who are at the end of their lives.

American Politics: Asked if his brilliant mind could explain how Donald Trump could ever get elected to lead the free world, he simply said, “I can’t.” Some things just defy logic.

Nuclear War: Hawking considers nuclear weapons one of the biggest threats to the survival of the human race. “Technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war,” Hawking warned.

Scientific Funding and Advancement: It’s not surprising that a scientist would advocate for better scientific funding or to utilize research in public policy.  The future is uncertain, and the best we can do is to gather as much information as we can to best face the challenges of tomorrow.

Though our leaders once based their decisions upon science and evidence, there is a disturbing trend now among our politicians to ignore science. Stephen Hawking believes that if the human race is to survive and prosper, we must base our political decisions on science and reason. He gives us a way to proceed, not only in science, but in national policies. We should honor his ideas.

(C) 2018 J.C. Moore

 

Please Nominate Your Candidates for the 2017 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Tue ,27/03/2018

Last year, 2017, saw some real heroes and villains with respect to the environment. It is important that we recognize those who most affected the environment, for good or ill, by their words or actions.

Each year, this site Earthrise2takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame or the Environmental Hall of Shame. Please send  your nominations  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact the Author”   link, send it to moorejc2646@gmail.com, or put it in the comment section. If you would like, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until May 15, 2018. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll to determine the winner in each category.  You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site.

(c) 2018 J.C. Moore

Has Global Warming Made Hurricane Damage Worse?

Sun ,31/12/2017

Hurricanes are the most violent and destructive storms in nature. There’s a smaller, yet potentially destructive, storm raging between climate scientists and climate skeptics about the nature of hurricanes. The scientific evidence points to the fact that global warming  causes hurricanes to be more intense. Skeptics would like to convince everyone that global warming has not made any change in hurricanes, so there is no need to address global warming. Skeptics do have a point or two, but not many. Skeptics want absolute proof from the scientists, but science doesn’t work that way. The changes caused by a warming world have changed the probability of the occurrence of extreme weather events, and skeptics apparently don’t want to consider probabilities.

Skeptics say that the number of hurricanes in the Southern Atlantic is not increasing, and they’re probably right on that. Hurricanes begin as tropical storms, which occur at random depending on the weather conditions. Skeptics also say that the increasing economic damages done by hurricane is because of the increased construction along the coasts. That is partly right, but it is also right that the damage done by storm surges has increased because of increased sea level rise, which is a measurable consequence of global warming. Those who listen to the skeptics, and unwisely build in floodplains, are sure to experience more damage from storm surges.

Global warming has made the oceans much warmer, even later into the year. The water temperature must be above 82°F for a tropical storm to grow into a hurricane, and the warmer the ocean the more likely it is that the a hurricane, once formed,  will intensify. Hurricanes are much like a heat engine, they are driven by the warm air rising from the oceans much like a chimney effect. The greater the temperature difference between the ocean and the upper atmosphere, the faster the flow upward and the greater the wind speeds.

If you could slice into a hurricane, it would look something like the diagram below. It has a low pressure eye at the center, and the air drawn into it rises and circulates counterclockwise around the low pressure area, faster and faster as it nears the eye. The small red arrows show warm, moist air rising from the ocean, and forming bands of clouds around the eye. As the warm moist air produces rain, more heat is released, warming the air further and causing it to rise faster until it reaches the top of the storm. Reaching there, it has become cooler and dryer. The blue arrows show how the cool, dry air then sinks in the eye and between the bands of clouds. Remember that the bands of clouds are rotating very quickly, and the large red arrow show the rotation of the rising bands of clouds.

.                                                                                                                                                      Credit: Kelvinsong

A hurricane is much like a heat engine. It is driven by the energy from the warm oceans and the cold temperature of the atmosphere above the storm. Because of global warming, that temperature difference is greater. The upper atmosphere receives its energy from the earth below. The increasing carbon dioxide between acts as a blanket, which causes the oceans to be warmer and the upper atmosphere to be colder. As in all heat engines, the greater the temperature difference, the more power the engine has. As a hurricane passes, it leaves the oceans cooler behind it as it sucks energy from the ocean. Because of global warming, the warmth goes deeper there is a greater area of warm water,  both factors which provide more heat to the hurricane and cause it to increase in size and intensify.

The vapor pressure of water increases exponentially with temperature. In our warmer world, there is now 10 to 15% more water vapor in the rain bands moving around the hurricane. When hurricane Harvey made landfall over Houston, it could be expected that Houston would receive increased rainfall. But by chance, Harvey stalled  over Houston and continued to pull warm moist air in from the Gulf, dumping over 50 inches of rain. Sea level rise has been measured to be about 30 inches along the Gulf Coast. The extreme rainfall coupled with the sea level rise  increased the storm surge and flooded much of the lower areas of Houston. The storm’s stalling was a chance event, and the skeptics are right when they say it should not have happened, but it did. Considering the storm’s intensity, the wind damage, the sea level rise, and the extreme rainfall, climate scientists attribute about 30% of the damage in Houston to global warming.

Below is a satellite image of hurricane Irma on the right, compared in size to the smaller hurricane Andrew which struck Florida in 1992, killing 65 people, destroying 65,000 home, and doing $26 billion in damages. Andrew was the  the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida ever before, and Irma could have been much worse.  

Florida was extremely lucky that hurricane Irma, wider than the whole Peninsula, went up the western side of the Peninsula. The western side of the  Peninsula experienced very little storm surge. The winds on the leading edge of the Irma, circulating counterclockwise, blew the ocean water away from shore, leaving the ocean dry for several hundred yards out as it passed. The storm was so weakened that by the time the back of the storm made landfall, directing the water toward shore, that the storm surge was only a few feet. Had Irma gone up the east side of Florida, the storm surge at the leading edge of the hurricane could have been as much as 15 feet, completely inundating much of Miami.

There you have it. Global warming has increased the temperatures of the oceans and has increased the temperature difference between the oceans and the upper atmosphere, both factors which tend to make the hurricanes more intense. The warmer oceans put more moisture into the air, making the rainfall from the hurricanes greater, and sea level rise has increased the height of the destructive storm surges. This fall, there were five intense hurricanes which formed in the Southern Atlantic, all of them making landfall and doing extensive damage. That could just be a chance occurrence, as the skeptics claim, but it has never happened before.

(c) 2017 –  J.C. Moore

Note added on 09/01/2021. Here is a great slde show analyzing hurricanes as heat engines: https://www3.nd.edu/~its/Emanuel.pdf

Climate Change: Science and Solutions

Sun ,13/08/2017

This is an update of an earlier PowerPoint presentation which reviews the scientific evidence for climate change and recommends a carbon fee and dividend system to address global warming. It was presented to the Oasis Fellowship in Wichita, Kansas. Though you may miss some things without the verbal presentation, the slides are mostly self-explanatory. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides –  you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Please click on the link below to start the program.

Oasis

 

(c) This program is not copyrighted. Please use or share it freely.

Environmental Security and Renewable Energy

Thu ,18/05/2017

Below are two letters published in the Wichita Eagle recently. They remind us that there are many reasons for taking action on climate change. They are reprinted  with the authors’ permissions.

 

Grow economy with wind energy

 As a 30-year-old living in the middle of Wichita, I am constantly thinking about job growth and how to keep my friends from moving away to states with job opportunities more in line with their needs. I am in love with this state because of its natural beauty – prairie grasses, limestone and sunsets that I can enjoy nearly every day.
The more I learn about renewable energy, the more excited I become for what it could do for our state. At a legislative roundtable in 2013 discussing the benefits of Kansas wind energy, they said that more than 13,000 jobs could be created from construction and operation of wind turbines. The American Wind Energy Association reports as of late 2016 that Kansas has 4.4 gigawatts of wind capacity.
What if we utilized our energy capabilities right here instead of purchasing coal from other states? Let’s grow our economy and start thinking of alternatives that would withstand our extreme realities of droughts and floods, employ citizens, and allow Kansas to become more energy independent.
Alisha Gridley, Wichita

Environmental security matters

Let’s talk about security – the state of being absent of danger or fear. The types of security are many: home, health, food, financial, cyber, national, etc.What may not come so readily to mind is environmental security — which is to live in an environment that provides clean air and water and a predictable and livable climate.
Inaction on climate change poses a threat to our environmental security. Climate scientists are convinced, based upon a vast body of evidence, that human-caused climate change is happening. Unabated, climate change will result in an increase of extreme weather-related disasters and coastal flooding that will consume an escalating percentage of our gross domestic product, putting our economic and national security at risk.
The U.S. House’s Bipartisan Climate Caucus recognizes this risk. This group, split evenly with Democrats and Republicans, promotes legislation that would collect a fee on fossil fuel production and distribute all the collections equally among the American citizenry as a dividend. This offers a market-based approach to deal with climate change and achieve environmental security.
RICHARD COWLISHAW, WINFIELD
 
Note: Both authors are members of the Citizens’ Climate Education and the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby  groups in Wichita. They are both strong advocates for a carbon fee and dividend system to ensure clean air, pure water, and a healthy future for our children.

Green Energy Is Not a Frivolous “Add on”

Mon ,03/04/2017

Article Photo
Dr. Pirotte’s clinic with solar panels

This is a reprint of a letter to the Wichita Eagle from Dr. Patrick Pirotte, which explains why renewable energy is important for our future.

Dr. Patrick Pirotte, O.D., is a board certified Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and treats children with vision and learning-related vision problems. He lectures nationwide on the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems in children and on the impact of vision problems on learning and classroom performance. He is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and is an advocate for their carbon fee and dividend system to ensure a healthy future for our children.

The letter below is reprinted with his permission:

“I read with interest recent statements by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., about renewable energy in Kansas (Oct. 1 Eagle). To imply that the only thing that green energy is doing in Kansas or elsewhere is a frivolous “add on” is incorrect.

Currently installed wind and solar are eliminating hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide while providing reliable energy at competitive prices. The idea that fossil fuel plants must be constantly kept running to back up intermittent sources such as solar or wind is not true.

When President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is allowed to go into effect, there will be a dramatic reduction in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases nationally and internationally. Proponents of burning fossil fuels should recognize these benefits and champion clean energy, saving lives and lowering health care costs.

Furthermore, the price of fossil fuels is not the just cost of fossil fuels, but also the external costs to the environment and people’s health. Because of that, there is a constant error in the way carbon pricing is discussed.

Senator Moran and his colleagues should consider a practical and well-studied proposal to charge a fee on carbon and give a dividend to each household, protecting those who would be harmed by the increased cost of their energy beyond their ability to pay. It is not a tax. Most importantly, it uses the market to send price signals to consumers to move their purchases away from fossil fuels, which will reduce climate change harm from burning them.”

PAT PIROTTE, WICHITA

 

Note: Dr. Pirotte is not only an advocate for renewable energy, but serves as an example of what can be done. He has installed 40 kW of solar panels on his 9000 square foot clinic as pictured above . They have a battery storage system and supply 90% of the energy needed to run the clinic. It is connected by a net metering system to the grid and on sunny days, particularly if the clinic is closed, his installation sends a considerable amount of electricity back onto the grid. He estimates the solar panels save him $6200 per year on his electricity costs and have a payback time of 14 years at current rates. His clinic serves as an example of how businesses can save money and energy by installing solar panels.

(C) 2017 J.C. Moore

Beans to Beef: How Diet Affects the Climate and Your Health

Wed ,15/03/2017

This guest article is a PowerPoint presentation given by Jane Byrnes to the March Citizens Climate Education meeting. Jane is a Licensed Dietitian and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. It is a balanced presentation encouraging you to eat more locally grown fruits and vegetables and encouraging you to eat less meat, particularly beef and lamb.

Though you will miss some things without Jane’s guidance, the slides are mostly self-explanatory. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides –  you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Please click on the link below to start the program.

Beef to Beans 3-11-17

 

Climate Change: Science and Solutions

Thu ,21/04/2016

This presentation was given at the Great Plains Conference on Animals and the Environment at Fort Hays State University for Earth Day 2016.  The first part of the program presents the evidenceccl1 for climate change and explains the urgency for taking action. The second part of the presentation explains the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s  proposal to reduce our carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2035.  The plan, with broad bipartisan support, would place a fee on carbon at the source and allow market forces to encourage reduced emissions, energy conservation and investments in renewable energy.

Science and Solutions 

Please click on the link above. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides – or you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. The slides were meant to be somewhat self-explanatory, but if you have questions you may email the author or post your questions in the comment section. The slides were  prepared by Darrel Hart, Mark Shobe, and J.C. Moore.