## “Microplastics in the Ocean: Emergency or Exaggeration?” (Morss Colloquium, WHOI)

#### Update, 2019-10-28 00:34 ET

I have compiled notes from the talks above, and from the audience Q&A and documented these in a Google Jam here.

## Sir David King (1), climate: What’s it all about, and what it will mean

Note the citing of how talent migrated from the fossil fuel industry to offshore wind energy.

## “The financial crash and the climate crisis” (The New Yorker Radio Hour)

Check out the thoughts of the late Professor Martin Weitzman as well, in “The man who got economists to take climate nightmares seriously“.

## House Speaker Pelosi

#### Update, 2019-10-20, 00:37 EDT

And it’s not only Speaker Pelosi, but Admiral William McRaven, and then General Joseph Votel.

## The CO2 Coalition: A cabal of digital denial

That’s climate denial. And the CO2 Coalition is all over it. Led by 45‘s climate toady Dr William Happer, it is funded by a cast of the usual suspects:

William Happer has accepted funding from the fossil fuel industry in the past. For example, in an email chain revealed as part of a undercover investigation by Greenpeace, Happer admitted he had been paid \$8,000 by Peabody Energy for a 2015 Minnesota state hearing on the impacts of carbon dioxide. The funds were routed through the CO2 Coalition. [8]

“My fee for this kind of work is \$250 per hour. The testimony required four 8-hour days of work, so the total cost was \$8,000,” Happer wrote in the email. [114]

As part of a 2018 case where he provided supporting testimony for the side of fossil fuel companies against cities suing for damages related to climate change, Happer was required to disclose any funding he had received in the past. In these disclosures, Happer estimated the amount he received for the 2015 Minnesota testimony as “\$10,000 to \$15,000, though he does not recall the precise number.” [100], [101]

Happer also noted he had received \$1,000 for a speech on climate change at the Heritage Foundation in 2017. [101]

advised by representatives of the climate clowns:

and having prominent members of the denialosphere and luckwarmosphere on their roster:

Mr Burton has also opposed measures for coastal protection in North Carolina on political grounds:

and, based upon his own vitae, continues to exaggerate his credentials, claiming there “… the following year [I] wrote this paper, published in the journal Natural Hazards: doi:10.1007/s11069-012-0159-8″ when, actually, all he did was submit a letter of comment to its editors:

Generally “publication” means peer review. This one was not.

Consider the source, and the funding! And the tie to both the Kochs and “beloved” President 45.

Oh, and he won’t appear here again. I have kept (most of) his comments so you can see his style.

## Acceleration in rise of Global Mean Sea Level (Yi, Heki, Qian, from 2017)

Most impressive!

This is Figure 2 of S. Yi, K. Heki, A. Qian, “Acceleration in the global mean sea level rise: 2005-2015”, 2017, Geophysical Research Letters:

Of particular interest to me is their use of a Fan filter in order to, in the authors’ words, “restore the leakage of the land signals to the oceans”.

Yi, Heki, and Qian check on the closure of their fits:

and the robustness of their acceleration estimates:

## Eminent Domain, the Natural Gas Act, and Explosive Methane Pipelines

Courts are beginning to question the appropriateness of eminent domain as applied to rights of way for pipelines.

## Ted Rall’s “Left, Center and Right: We’re All in Denial About Climate Change”

##### (Friend, fellow congregant, and committee chair Will Rico of First Parish in Needham sent me this highly appropriate link.)

Ted Rall argues at Counterpunch that:

Those who deny that climate change is real are engaging in what psychologists call “simple denial.” But those on the left aren’t much better. Liberals who think global warming is real often resort to “transference denial”: they blame the right and corporate polluters even though we’re all responsible. The scale of the climate crisis and the level of sacrifice and disruption that would be necessary to mitigate it feels overwhelming.

I have argued something similar, , although less eloquently, as has Bill Maher, who is more eloquent than Mr Rall.

Here’s where we are. I’m not focussing upon Republicans, who have, as Mr Rall points out, 44% of their polled cohort denying human caused climate disruption is a real thing. While 92% of Democrats say they consider climate disruption both actual and human caused, this is where their priorities lie:

That’s a summary of a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll from early September 2019 rating the importance of issues to them. Overall, when the Yale Program on Climate Communication and George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication joined to survey American’s views on climate change and its risk, reporting in December 2018, only 70% have any worries about climate change, and just 30% are “very worried”:

Mr Rall quotes and somewhat agrees with Dr Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute who said:

The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.

I strongly disagree, along with Andrew Gottlieb of APCC and consider it a bit arrogant, reminiscent of “After me, the Deluge“. The biosphere will be just fine. There may be appreciable species rotation, meaning, that, no doubt, a bunch of species will go extinct. But that’s how Life responds to a significant environmental challenge. We seem to have difficulty accepting that all species eventually go extinct and how, the proper response, say, for landscaping is to embrace the hardiest of botanical species, even if it violates canons of landscape management taught, pursued, and implemented over years, even enshrined in law. Wake up: Things have changed. Life will be here, but we shouldn’t be sure of human civilization’s part in it. Pursuit of “sustainability” has failed, and it’s time to make some uncomfortable tradeoffs.

Still, Mr Rall sets out the current problem. We meet in committees, doing cleanups of brooks and streams, hearing lectures about migrating birds, lamenting roaming cats and what they do to wildlife. We rail against fossil fuel companies, and champion measures to defend the vulnerable far away. But we drive CO2-spewing cars, nod in approval of housing developments which keep our taxes low, oppose gasoline taxes, put in that third bathroom, and go crazy buying things for the holidays. Business as usual. We sure aren’t acting like this is urgent. All the Democrats schemes as pretty anemic, for no one wants to utter the essential word: Degrowth (see also).

Mr Rall ends with a flourish:

None of this should come as a surprise. We were warned. “The oceans are in danger of dying,” Jacques Cousteau said in 1970. Life in the oceans had diminished by 40 percent in the previous 20 years.

If you really believe that the planet is becoming uninhabitable, if you think you are about to die, you don’t march peacefully through the streets holding signs and chanting slogans begging the corrupt scoundrels who haven’t done a damn thing for decades to wake up and do something. You identify the politicians and corporate leaders who are killing us, you track them down and you use whatever force is necessary to make them stop. Nothing less than regime change stands a chance of doing the job.

Nothing else—the struggle for income equality, gun control, abortion—matters as much as attacking pollution and climate change.

Anything short of revolution and the abolition of consumer capitalism is “minimizational denial“: admitting the problem while downplaying its severity. Anything short of a radical retooling of the global political system that establishes state control of the economy with environmental impact as our first, second and third priorities is a waste of time that dooms the human race to extinction.

There is no middle ground, no splitting the difference, no compromise. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Mere progress won’t cut it. Human survival is a pass-fail class. The final exam is tomorrow morning—early tomorrow morning.

Time to get serious, godammit.

### Update, 2019-09-26

It’s come to my attention that Kirkpatrick Sale has written a follow-up to Mr Rall’s piece described above, with Mr Sale’s piece titled “The illusion of saving the world“. Whether or not you agree with Mr Sale or, for that matter, Mr Rall, there are a few things about climate disruption Mr Sale gets wrong. I fear many people misunderstand these, too, including many climate progressives and environmentalists who agree upon the urgency of acting on zeroing greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some basic facts most people do not know, even those concerned about climate disruption:

1. Carbon dioxide (and its precursors, e.g., methane) is not like other pollutants. The natural mechanisms for scrubbing it work, but half of it remains in atmosphere for 1000 years or more, and the rest takes centuries to remove. This means what matters is cumulative emissions, not emissions intensity. Also, the United States and Europe own most of the CO2 in atmosphere, because of our tremendous growth and success since the beginning of the industrial age.
2. We know the overwhelming amount of excess CO2 in atmosphere is from human sources. This is because our fossil fuel fingerprints are in the isotopic signatures of the Carbon and Oxygen atoms in the excess CO2.
3. We have known about the dangers of climate change for a long time: The first U.S. President briefed on the seriousness of the matter was LBJ in 1965. Svante Arrhenius essentially had all the science right in 1896. He even made estimates of warming, but did not foresee the amount of CO2 we’d emit. He was followed by Callendar in 1938, among others, and Revelle in 1958. Each succeeding U.S. President was also briefed.
4. Because 90+% of the excess warming from greenhouse gases goes into the oceans, and oceans have a huge thermal capacity, even if CO2 emissions were zeroed, we will not see an improvement in climate conditions. Deterioration at that point will stabilize, but it won’t get better on any timescale of typical meaning to people: Thousands if not tens of thousands of years. This is why the expectation, which Sale raises, that things might eventually “cool down” is exactly the straw man it seems. They won’t cool down, essentially ever. We can keep them from getting warming, but that’s about it.
5. These are all the reasons we need to stop now: It should have happened in 1990, but it didn’t. We need to come down as quickly as possible. And it is so late that to do it fast enough will mean economic hurt. This will, eventually, result in less economic hurt from climate disruption, for everyone, including us.

## “How dare you pretend …!”

### “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

#### Update, 2019-09-24

Some reaction, including some from the fiendishly uncivilized. As Ms Thunberg says, this means this movement is having an impact, and Knowles and 45 are afraid.

## Re: “Resilience.org refused to post my comment on an article …”

Actually, they did. I missed it. (Too many balls in the air.)

Apologies to Moderator Bart and Resilience.org for jumping the gun.

I have withdrawn my misleading post.

## Why a UN Climate Summit is considered urgent

Where we are headed, and how much time we have …

## How quickly temperature barriers are breached!

This is from the Economist‘s special issue this week on climate disruption.

What’s striking is how quickly delay in substantial action takes us from +1.5C to +2C tp +2.5C to +3C, and it’s almost independent of how much we cut, except for the really dramatic pathway, but just about the schedule. Accordingly, wait 10 years and, accordingly, while it may not be “too late”, it’s gonna be both much harder to achieve, and there’ll be hell to pay whatever we do.

In a tangentially related comment, I wrote earlier today elsewhere about:

[how] some high quantile of climate disruption might come true. The basic rationale is statistical: There are, stochastically speaking, many more long tailed distributions than symmetric ones (proof by 1-1 pairing since asymmetry is a free parameter), so an arbitrary error in forecasting can land you in hotter water than you otherwise thought you’d might, Black Swans and all that. … [P]eople [are] planning as if climate sensitivity [is] Gaussian.

# “Here is the simplest truth of the climate crisis: Speed is everything.“

## “Sustainability failed. The future is just climate.” (Simon Propper)

Simon Propper has an excellent blog post at Context. An excerpt:

Societies in most countries rumble on, worried about other things. The French are arguing about wealth distribution and church restoration. The Americans about abortion and trade tariffs. The British about Europe. The Chinese worry about – actually, I have no idea. A 2018 OECD survey, “Risks That Matter” identified the issues most concerning the populations of 21 countries. The top issues are health, wealth and accessing social services. – no mention at all of climate change.

So either we aren’t worried about climate change, or we are so worried about it we don’t want to think about it. In fact, there is evidence our populations are divided along climate lines. Many, probably most, continue reaping whatever benefits capitalism and technology provide: fast fashion, disposable packaging, short lived cell phones, cheaper flights. The list is endless. Others (e.g. Extinction Rebellion, are fully aware of the existential threat posed by climate change, and are close to panic. Their protests sound alarmist and shrill. Their remedies draconian and infeasible. Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly fatalistic, feeling there’s nothing they can do to save themselves and their as yet unconceived children. Talk of not having kids, because of climate change, is commonplace.
.
.
.
So what of the sustainability community? I’m pretty sure most of us started out with good intentions. But I think we have gone about it the wrong way. We have spread our efforts thinly over a vast array of issues.

Take a look at a typical company sustainability report. The contents list will include a long list of environmental and social issues, each with its own set of sub-headings, metrics, targets and highlight examples. All wrapped in a viscous layer of management process. Not quite ready to set an absolute CO2 target? Oh well, let’s feature volunteering this year. And so it goes on. Doing some good here and there, but not conclusively dealing with the problem threatening our existence. Can you name the companies that have cut their absolute carbon footprint while growing their business? These should be our role models.

By trying to tackle everything at once we’re diluting our impact, giving too much weight to secondary issues and too little to the really big one.

We must stop talking about water, plastic, diversity, workers’ rights, and volunteering. These are housekeeping issues. Just get on and do them quietly. We need all our energy, resources and focus on climate change. Talk about nothing else, to your board, investors, political connections and customers. Measure your success in \$ and tons CO2. If we beat climate change, we will automatically make many of the other problems better, and we will have re-established a collective belief that we can act to save our common future. Don’t tell me if we can cut global CO2 emission by half, we can’t fix packaging.

And Dr Ashley Nunes of MIT has an op-ed at FT Alphaville (paywall), having a headline (paraphrase) Voters care about the planet, just not enough to pay [for fixing it], where he states:

So do Democratic presidential hopefuls who sparred on climate policy last week. While roundly demonising the fossil fuel industry, none called out the American public for embracing a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality. None acknowledged that energy has been far too cheap for far too long. And none admitted that if we really want to tackle climate change, we must be willing to pay for it.

This has been part of my concern about the emphasis upon environmental justice, climate justice, and a Green New Deal. Surely many people have been harmed in recent history because of exploitation by rich, powerful, and privileged. I simply suggest, as does Propper, that now is not the time to try to set all things right. As Professor Nunes points out, people aren’t getting it, including progressive Democrats.

## “Tensors in Algebraic Statistics” (Elizabeth Gross)

Some notes:

• Segre variety, about $9^{m}20^{s}$

## cdetools package for R: Dalmasso, et al [updated]

Just hit the “arXiv streets”:

`N. Dalmasso, T. Pospisil, A. B. Lee, R. Izbicki, P. E. Freeman, A. I. Malz, "Conditional Density Estimation Tools in Python and R with applications to photometric redshifts and likelihood-free cosmological inference", arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1908.11523v1`

I look forward to codetools being an R package on CRAN. Meanwhile, for the impatient, there’s a Github version.

##### Postscript

Dr Drew Cameron has some comments about this work and paper. I look forward to delving into the Dalmasso, et al paper once I have a chance to look at their codes.

My interests are different, however, in that I want to borrow their empirical likelihood methods for other applications.

I do think Dr Cameron’s comment on nested sampling is interesting, and I wonder if there might not be an application of the higher dimensional version of slice sampling in its place.

Note parallel multivariate variations on slice sampling are now known, although I’m not aware of work on how well these go.

And, just for information, there’s very recent work on something called generalized elliptical slice sampling with regional pseudo-priors which I have not read.

There is also another 2019 connection to elliptical slice sampling called Bayesian Tensor Filtering which is interesting because:

## How to achieve Carbon neutrality in Massachusetts

Claire and I and our home are featured in the section on “Electrifying our energy supply” in the section “Local households making the switch to electricity”.

## 9 Misconceptions About Solar Energy

Claire and I and our home are featured in the case study in section “7. My home is not right for solar”.

## Introduction and Abstract

This is a review, re-presentation, and report on the August 2019 article,

### Y. Zhang, C. Song, L. E. Band, G. Sun, (2019), “No proportional increase of terrestrial gross Carbon sequestration from the greening Earth“, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 124. 10.1029/2018JG004917

Note: I’m not a biogeoscientist, a biologist, a geologist, or even a geophysicist. I’m a statistician and engineer who learns a lot and borrows methods heavily from quantitative biologists, especially population biologists, and statistical ecologists. I also study climate science, and recently offered a course on it (Climate Science for Climate Activists, Summer 2019).

Terrestrial vegetation, as the key component of the biosphere, has a greening trend since the beginning of this century. However, how this substantial greening translated to global gross carbon sequestration or gross primary production (GPP) is not clear. Here we investigated terrestrial GPP dynamics and the respective contributions of climate change and vegetation cover change (VCC) from 2000 to 2015. We adopted a remote sensing based data‐driven model, which was calibrated based on the global eddy flux data set (FLUXNET2015) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer vegetation index data (Collection 6). A series of simulation experiments were conducted to disaggregate the effects of climate and VCC. We found a much weaker increase in global GPP (0.08%/year; P = 0.07) when compared with the global greening rate (0.23%/year; P < 0.001). The positive effect of VCC on GPP was reduced by 53% due to climate stress. Enhanced global GPP were largely contributed by nonforests, especially croplands. However, tropical forests, once a major driver of the global GPP increase, negatively contributed to global GPP trend due to warming‐induced moisture stress and deforestation. Given the limited potential of cropland carbon storage due to harvest and consumption, the contrasting GPP changes (i.e., cropland GPP increase vs. forest GPP reduction) may have shifted the distribution of the land carbon sink. Our study highlights the potential vulnerability of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration under climate and land use changes and has important implications in the global carbon cycle and climate warming mitigation.

I have 4 reasons for wanting to review this paper:

1. The greening of the Earth is not widely known. This would, on the face of it, seem like an encouraging sign. That is, greening would mean in principle that, because of emissions of great amounts of human-produced CO2 greater amounts of Carbon were being removed from atmosphere and potentially sequestered by such greening.
2. Several of the initial proposals for obtaining negative emissions involve processes like altered farming practices and afforestation, processes which to one degree or another sequester Carbon. Accordingly, it’s interesting to learn more about natural vehicles for Carbon sequestration and how they respond in time.
3. The cited paper makes heavy use of statistical significance testing, a technique and method which is questionable. I want to see how they are using it and if I can take their data and obtain comparable results using proper Bayesian techniques. If the conclusions are different, that’s an interesting result in itself.
4. Should the conclusions of the paper hold, and, after all, it was peer reviewed, the implications for additional Carbon sequestration in croplands and elsewhere are noteworthy and should be shared with those who champion these options.

## Background

The basic hypothesis Zhang, Song, Band, and Sun (hereafter “ZSBS”) are attempting to verify is “terrestrial [Gross Primary Productivity] increases proportionally as the Earth greens up”. Gross Primary Productivity or “GPP” is defined as “the amount of total carbon captured by plants via photosynthesis in a unit time”. Note this is not the same as Carbon sequestration, since the decayed byproducts of plants could enter the food chain and be respired. Also note their interest is terrestrial GPP, not oceanic GPP via phytoplankton and such. This is of great interest because, as ZSBS say, “terrestrial GPP is one of the most variable components in the [C]arbon [C]ycle”.

#### The Model

While reading this paper, I also referenced the related 2016 paper

### Y. Zhang, C. Song, G. Sun, L. E. Band, S. McNulty, A. Noormets, Q. Zhang, Z. Zhang, (2016), “Development of a coupled carbon and water model for estimating global gross primary productivity and evapotranspiration based on eddy flux and remote sensing data“. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 223, 116–131. 10.1016/j.agrformet.2016.04

I did not read this second paper in full. It concerns the principal tool used in this study, a Coupled Carbon and Water model (CCW) for estimating GPP, software which is described in the 2016 paper just cited above.

#### Data Sources

Several data sources were provided to CCW:

• Local climatology including global radiation, precipitation, air temperature, air pressure, and air specific humidity obtained from CRU-NCEP and NCEP-NCAR Reanalyses, migrated and resampled to monthly. Vapor pressure deficit (VPD) was calculated from these.
• Land cover data from ESA’s Climate Change Initiative (CCI) were used to define the maximum light-use efficiency and climate constrains
for each plant functional type in CCW, available at 300 m spatial resolution. The land cover codes were converted to those of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).
• GPP comparisons from FLUXCOM, a Light Use Efficiency-based product (LUE) from MODIS, OCO-2-produced solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence data, an indicator of GPP, annual land sink estimates from the Global Carbon Project, process-based products like ISIMIP2a, and others.
• Global greenness trends were estimated with AVHRR-based global NDVI and LAI products, and with MODIS-C6 EVI/LAI products.

For details on the origins of these datasets and their special features, and on how they were specifically used with CCW, consult ZSBS (2019).

#### Simulation

A number of factors change independently with time which affect estimates of GPP. There are changes in vegetation cover. There are changes in climate. There are changes in the fraction of photosynthetically available radiation. These trends develop over time in any particular locale. They were used as time-evolving predictors, and were considered individually along with their cross-terms, both cross-terms and primaries taken as potentially explanatory factors for GPP.

## “Bayesian replication analysis” (by John Kruschke)

### “… the ability to express [hypotheses] as distributions over parameters …”

Bayesian estimation supersedes the t-test:

## Managed Retreat

The case for managed retreat” in Science, by Siders, Hino, and Mach, 2019.

Canal development on the north side of Roy Creek, Assawoman Bay

Homes on the cliff edge at Happisburgh in Norfolk demonstrating levels of erosion along the East Coast.

## The state of the science: “Heißzeit” … where we are heading.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

` ― Lao Tzu`

Professor Johan Rockström, again.

Yeah, and that makes me feel, this way …

## CBRA is awesome!

Hat tip to Professor Rob Young and Audubon for a great newsfilm.

## And HOW long do you think we’ve known fossil fuels were going to be a problem?

`Y. Zhang, C. Song, L. E. Band, G. Sun, "No proportional increase of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration from the greening Earth", Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2018JG004917, 2019.`