Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Title: Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change 2nd Edition 2015 Product Details
Author(s): Michael E. Mann and Lee E. Kump
ISBN: 978-1-4654-3364-0
Published: 2008,2015 by DK Publishing
Price: $24.95 (hardback)
Length: 224 pages

Author Bios

Dr. Mann has undergraduate degrees in physics and applied math, a Masters degree in Physics, and a Ph.D in Geology and Geophysics. Dr. Mann has published books (The Hockey Stick, The Madhouse Effect) and over 180 peer-reviewed publications on global warming, and has testified in congressional hearings about the subject, as well as made himself available via social media to people with questions on global warming.

Dr. Kump has an undergraduate degree in geophysical sciences and a Ph.D in Marine Science. Dr. Kump has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications on global warming, and his work has appeared in documentaries produced by National Geographic, BBS, NOVA Science-Now, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

These two scientists are far more reliable sources on climate change than special interest commentators with an agenda to cast doubt on climate change. Let’s take a look at their book and see what the scientific data shows.


Table of Contents

Introduction – do NOT skip this section! Great intro to climate
PART 1: Climate Change Basics
PART 2: Climate Change Projections
PART 3: The Impacts of Climate Change
PART 4: Vulnerability and Adaption to Climate Change
PART 5: Solving Climate Change



“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. ”

Dire Predictions explains the findings of the IPCC on climate change, using clear and detailed visual graphics to demonstrate the data in the 5th IPCC assessment.
Note 1: As of 2017, there is a new assessment on the IPCC website (
Note 2: The IPCC/Links website page contains links to different government websites that contain climate change information, and the US EPA website no longer contains Climate Change data per President Trump and EPA Admin Pruitt – for pre-Trump information, see



“We plan our daily activities around the weather. Will it rain? Is a storm or a cold front approaching? Weather is highly variable, and, although considerable improvements in weather forecasting have been made, it is still often unpredictable.

Climate, on the other hand, varies more slowly and is highly predictable. … Climate represents the average of many years’ worth of weather. This averaging process smooths out the individual blips caused by droughts and floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, and blizzards and downpours, while emphasizing the more typical patterns of temperature highs and lows and precipitation amounts.”
Introduction, Dire Predictions

Sen. James Inhofe (republican, Oklahoma) received a BA from the University of Tulsa in 1973, when he was nearly 40 yrs old, which is commendable. Checking his biography ( and, t I was unable to find out what he studied for his undergraduate degree, nor could I find any graduate school credentials for the senator. On Feb 25, 2015, Sen. James Inhofe appeared at the US senate and used a snowball for the reason his does not believe that global warming is happening ( Yes, a person elected by the people of Oklahoma to represent them in government doesn’t understand the basic difference between weather and climate.

For the sake of people that don’t understand the difference between weather and climate, let’s summarize:
WEATHER: highly variable and unpredictable.
CLIMATE: varies slowly and highly predictable.


  1. Latitude (location on the Earth)
  2. The oceans
  3. The atmosphere
  4. Atmospheric Circulation – the Hadley Circulation

Fascinating information about ice ages in this section. When they did and didn’t occur.



It is important to understand what greenhouse gases are, since climate change deniers often attempt to claim these are not important or that science is wrong is stating certain things are greenhouse gases. According to scientists that actually study climate science:

“Greenhouse gases exist naturally in Earth’s atmosphere in the form of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and other trace gases, but atmospheric concentrations of some greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are being increased as a result of human activity. This increase occurs primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, but also through deforestation and agricultural practices. Certain greenhouse gases, such as CFCs and the surface ozone found in smog, are produced exclusively by human activity.”
Dire Predictions, Introduction page 14

Something in this section is very important today, as current news in 2017 shows that the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting, and that ice sheet has remained intact during climate changes over the past 2 million years. The fact it is melting is extremely important, as it shows we are experiencing something today that hasn’t happened in 2 million years!




“Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase. Though various natural factors can influence Earth’s climate, only the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations linked to human activity, principally the burning of fossil fuels, can explain recent patterns of global warming.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 16

Scientists study climate change, and often find themselves questioned by special interests or people hired to look for reasons to contest climate change. Scientists approach climate science the same way they approach other topics: using the scientific method (

“Scientific conclusions arise from time-tested theories, accurate observations, realistic models based on the fundamentals of physics and chemistry, and consensus among colleagues working in the discipline.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 21

Real scientific conclusions are not based on what is politically correct, what pleases conspiracy theorists, or what is economically prudent. We do not live in a Star Trek universe where everyone has a theory, so the opinions of people that doubt climate science but lack a scientific education do not trump scientific theories.



The 5th assessment of the IPCC makes predictions about the possible outcomes we can expect from climate change. I understand why possibilities that are low are not as alarming, but I do not understand why any politician would reject risks that 50% or greater probability of happening. Intensified cyclone activity, raising sea level (threatening coastal communities around the globe), rising surface temperatures (affecting plant and animal life, as well as humans), impacting the amount of sea life (reducing a food source for a growing population), and a change in long term weather patterns are serious. The IPCC report shows these dangers, yet many politicians ignore them and the outcome, endangering our children and grandchildren, as well as plant and animal life on this pale blue dot we call home: Earth.

Why do politicians argue against climate change? Ask your representatives in the US house and senate. And when (and if) they respond, ask them for the scientific data/peer-reviewed papers that back their position. And be sure to ask them why they disagree with scientific consensus, where 97% of climate scientists agree global warming is happening, is caused by human activity, and is a serious threat to humanity.



A greenhouse lets sunlight in, reducing heat loss from wind and trapping the heat so the enclosed area is warmer than the outside. These are used in cold climates, as well as when there is a need for warmer climate plants in cooler parts of the world.

“The greenhouse effect occurs on our planet because the atmosphere contains greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are special – they absorb heat, which then warms the atmosphere. Not all gases are greenhouse gases.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 22

The greenhouse effect is simple:

  1. The Earth receives sunlight and warms up.
  2. The Earth begins to radiate heat.
  3. Radiating heat encounters greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane) that absorb and retain the heat.

When greenhouse gas levels increase in the atmosphere, more heat is retained and the Earth gets warmer.

Positive feedback loop – in global warming, it happens when one change (like increased carbon dioxide) causes another result (more water vapor in the air) – water vapor is a greenhouse gas, so more water vapor means warmer Earth.

Negative feedback loop – in global warming, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide causes increased amounts of water vapor (a greenhouse gas) in the air – clouds form. Some clouds trap heat, while others reflect heat, and so this isn’t as much of a factor as positive feedback.

Anthropogenic – human generated. A cause for concern, since we started burning fossil fuels over 200 years ago and have not done anything to remove the excess carbon dioxide. This anthropogenic greenhouse gas has been increasing without a mechanism to reduce the extra carbon dioxide, so our Earth is getting warmer.

Greenhouse gases can be studied in the past, by analyzing ice from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Scientists take core samples of the ice and analyze the air bubbles in different times to see how much greenhouse gases were present. Core studies show far more greenhouse gases are present today than in pre-industrial era air. Not good.

“If we use existing fossil-fuel reserves and do nothing to capture the Carbon dioxide released, atmospheric carbon dioxide will exceed anything experienced on Earth for over 50 million years.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 43

There was a myth that climate scientists in the 1970s predicted a new ice age was coming. This was published in popular magazines, not scientific magazines nor scientific journals, and was not the opinion of climate scientists. It was speculation and it was wrong.

The authors discuss climate models in this section, in detail and showing the strengths and weaknesses of them. Many climate change deniers argue that models are bad or inaccurate, but I have not seen any model complaint that was not addressed by scientists. Climate change models are being updated and enhanced, which proves that scientists want the best models possible. Science needs accurate data, but that does not mean we cannot use what we have now, even though it bothers climate change deniers.



“researchers can draw certain conclusions given best-guess scenarios of fossil-fuel burning and the average projections of theoretical climate models.”
Dire Predictions Part 2 page 82

Some critics claim that climate change is false because we still have winters. Ridiculous. Climate scientists believe that, as climate change speeds up, there will be fewer frosty days (that doesn’t infer it will never be cold or frosty), longer heatwaves (that doesn’t mean we will only have heatwaves), and more intense rainstorms (that doesn’t infer we never had intense rainstorms).

Climate Sensitivity – the amount of warming to expect when factors controlling climate change. This shows how how much Earth will warm with increased greenhouse gas emissions.

We have limited real temperature data for land and sea, about 150 yrs for land and 50 yrs for sea, so scientists use tree rings and ice cores to estimate how average temperatures varied over time in the past. We can track solar activity and volcanic eruptions and greenhouse gas concentrations much further back than 150 years, and these help improve our climate models, by helping discern when climate change was influenced by natural or human factors.

By studying historical climate information, science shows that continued buildup of carbon dioxide results in warming of the Earth. Since burning fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases to the air and seas, increased reliance on fossil fuels increases the amount of greenhouse gases and so increases the temperature of our planet.

Recently, there was a false pause, where it appeared that global warming slowed, but that was a result in sparse data gathered, plus a few natural factors that offset global warming. These natural factors included volcanic activity, a short term reduction in solar output, and a series of La Nina events. When you factor in ocean heat content and arctic sea ice losses, the climate change models are still accurate – our planet is heating up, even though natural factors masked global warming during this false pause.

There have been IPCC projects for nearly 25 yrs, and the early ones have proven to be quite accurate. What should concern people living near the coast, is that sea levels have risen as projected for each of the earlier IPCC projections, A large percentage of global population live near the coast, so many people can expect to be impacted in the future, based on current expectations.

While some climate change deniers attack the IPCC findings by claiming they overstate the impact of global warming, actual evidence shows the IPCC predictions underestimated the effects of climate change.

The most conservative estimates for climate change over the next century are grim, with a 50% chance we will exceed 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) increase in average global temperatures. That 2 degree increase is viewed as a dangerous amount of climate interference by humans – called a tipping point. The most liberal estimates are far worse than 2 degrees C increase, with effects far more devastating.

Precipitation will be affected by increased average Earth temperatures, meaning more droughts and more floods. Cold seasons would see more precipitation and warm seasons should less precipitation, which is only good if you like plenty of snow in the winter and no rain in the summer. Increasing droughts could have a terrible impact on desert regions of the world.

Increased temperatures means we can expect to lose ice from our two largest continental ice sheets: Greenland and Antarctica. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, it would result in rising global sea levels of 16’ to 23’!  If the West Antarctic ice sheet melts, that would add another 16’ of rising sea levels. If you live in Louisiana, Florida, New York, or on any island in the ocean, you should be very concerned.

With the evidence we see from climate science, I cannot understand why people would choose to deny climate change and refuse to understand science. Harvey, a recent Cat 4 hurricane hit Texas, and most people were willing to accept the news from climate scientists about that hurricane, so they left endangered areas. Why accept some of what climate scientists say and reject other information? Because special interests promote doubt about climate change, but they don’t interfere with warnings about hurricanes. If you accept scientists are right on hurricanes, you must accept they are right on global warming.



If you are a climate change denier, this is the section you should focus on. Scientists expect human and animal habitats will be impacted by global warming, and that we will see mass extinction of many land and sea creatures which will affect animal and human food chains.

Climate change will result in less food to feed more people, so who gets to eat and live? We can expect wars as people lack what they need to survive and they will want with others have. We can also expect mass migration of people from less developed countries to the most developed parts of the planet. More people means less surface area to grow or raise food, meaning still less food.

We have already started to see rising sea levels affecting people in Louisiana (Katrina, 2005) and Texas (Harvey, 2017), and the heavily populated eastern seaboard will lose habitat land and heavy storm surges will cause increasing damage and property losses to people and businesses, affecting our economy – insurance companies aren’t in business to pay out more than they bring in, so insurance rates will soar.

If the Greenland ice sheet melts, we can expect over 19’ increase in sea level. Belgium and the Netherlands in Europe, the entire eastern seaboard, the gulf coast, and the west coast will lose much of the available land. And coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef will be impacted by global warming too, impacting the sea life dependent on reefs and reducing parts of the food chain we humans need that eat food from the oceans. And with ice in the arctic and Antarctica gone, life that lives (like polar bears) in those parts of the world will be gone, except for the animals kept in zoos. That will be a tragedy as we learn from studying life in the natural environment.

Droughts, which we have been experiencing since the early 2000s in Texas, Oklahoma and California, reduce plant and animal food production and increase food costs for people everywhere. And flooding won’t just cause loss of life by drowning. Many infectious diseases spread in water, and having more floods means more people are exposed to those diseases and so health costs will also rise.

All continents will be impacted by climate change. Yes, even the US and Europe, as well as Africa and Australia. Less coastal land for people to live on, famine from reduced food production, more disease from floods, and economic chaos from skyrocketing cost increases in every aspect of life. And war, meaning too many people will die far from home and family and friends, trying to gain what they lack.

The only good news we have right now? That the amount of global warming impacts how much our world is affected by global warming. If we act now and reduce our carbon emissions into the environment, we can reduce the changes that happen in the future.



For our economies to change, we need to reward use of alternatives to fossil fuels and to provide a carbon tax to reward companies that use less fuels that add to the carbon dioxide levels in our environment.

Rising sea levels means our global communities will need to either pump out the excess water like Holland, or move inland. The costs for either will be huge, to individuals and to each country.

We will need to find more fresh water, which could be done by desalination plants if we can find an economically feasible means to mass produce fresh water. We need to produce more food on less arable land, so improving the efficiency of growth/production, as well as reducing spoilage will help.

To adapt to climate change, we need to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use for energy sources. Alternatives like solar and wind and tide power, as well as nuclear will reduce the fossil fuel we need for energy sources, which reduces carbon dioxide output to the sea and atmosphere. Alternative transportation – more trains, intercity mass transit, and electric-powered vehicles – will reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is another way to adapt. Reducing carbon dioxide from cars by carpooling and improving engine efficiency will help reduce our carbon footprint. Reducing emissions from power systems – as President Obama did by requiring coal powered plants to decrease greenhouse gases – will help, as long as another administration doesn’t make changes that eliminate those emission savings.

Unfortunately, President Trump as made rolling back changes that help the environment a priority of his administration. Removing the US from the Paris Climate Accords was President Trump’s defining act that may well be his lasting legacy – and not for the better I am afraid.

Many ecosystems around the world are sensitive to climate, and many will be wiped out unless we make changes now. Our scientists have seen the effects of climate change on sea corral, and the changes have been accelerating in recent years as greenhouse gases increase.

The truth is, economically it is less expensive to address climate change now that after it gets far worse. We can’t expect to see things immediately return to pre-industrial era conditions, but we can hope to see lower temperatures and less dangerous weather systems. Climate Scientists have shown that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases will take a long time to remove from the environment, so the longer we wait to reduce emissions, the longer the recovery time.

We can do something besides reduce emissions. Implement a carbon tax to reward companies that produce fewer greenhouse gases. This is not popular among republicans, but we are all Americans first and our country’s needs should come before party needs. We are past the point where we can do nothing and things will fix themselves. The cost of inactivity will escalate the longer we ignore or fail to correct the problem. That should motivate anyone that cares about this planet more than profits.



Adaption will help, but we still need to do more to solve global warming. We need to work with the other countries of our planet together, as we all impact each other. Unfortunately, President Trump removed the US from the Paris Climate Accords, so a future administration will need to make alliances with other countries and get political buy-in to prevent some other politician from harming our environment for the sake of profit.

We also need to improve engineering processes to reduce power wasted by inefficient transmission, improve tools like stoves to use fuel more efficiently (reducing the amount needed). This chapter of the book shows graphs that demonstrate the potential places we can reduce greenhouse emissions, along with the costs for each place.

Creating more wind farms and tapping more water power sources like dams and tidal power systems will help. We also need to stop trying to get more fossil fuel from the Earth, so reduce or eliminate fracking (which has proven a problem in Oklahoma, where they are experiencing earthquakes up around 5 on the Richter scale) in 2017.

Using lighter colored surfaces on the roofs of homes and businesses and road surfaces means less solar energy to be absorbed, which will help as well. Using electric cars instead of gas burning cars will make a tremendous difference as well.

We also need to consider future building projects, to reduce power needs and to utilize alternate power sources like solar. We may want to eat less red meat, as cows produce methane, and wheat doesn’t. Nothing wrong with people adapting by having meatless days during the week, which is healthier for us too.

Planting more trees as well as rewarding countries that preserve trees will help. We can’t match the efficiency of trees to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, so planting more is a good option. Some people propose returning carbon to our environment, the same way that fossil fuel holds carbon. There are np good methods at this time, but that will change.

Each person on Earth can help in the fight against global warming. Reduce your use of carbon dioxide producing power systems. Add solar panels and energy efficient appliances to your home. Bike to work or work from home to save gas (and money) while reducing carbon dioxide output. Have a meatless day, where you eat no red meat one day a week. Add insulation to your home, turn off unnecessary lights, get rid of power-leaching power strips, and turn down your thermostat in the winter (and turn it up in summer). Communicate with people that doubt climate change and get them to see the reality of the problem. And write your government representatives and remind them they work for you, not the fossil fuel industry, and we need them to make laws to protect our planet. Plant a tree and a garden at your home.

We must act now. Global warming is real, and a serious threat to life on our planet. Sea life and land-bound life alike are at risk, and the effects will last a very long time, affecting our descendants who will rightly blame us for leaving them in this predicament. Climate change is a very real danger and we need to push our politicians to stop taking special interest money opposing climate change and to start fighting for us, their constituents. Inaction is no longer a realistic option.



This is an update to the first edition of the book, which includes updated scientific data. The pages in the book are thicker than normal and loaded with illustrations, graphs and images to help convey the information. The book is organized into five sections, which are easy to read sequentially or in any order you like. I hope that some people that embrace climate warming denial either buy or borrow this book from a library and read it with an open mind – I don’t see how any real, intelligent, and unbiased reader could go through this book and still believe global warming is not a real issue.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5 possible and strongly encourage that it be purchased and read by everyone in your family. This material should be easy enough for people with a high school education to understand, and it has enough detail for people with higher education to enjoy.


Title: Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the WorldProduct Details
Author: Bill Nye
ISBN: 978-1-250-00714-8
Published: 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Price: $26.99 hardback
(Reviewing the Kindle version)
Length: 352 pages


Yes, another long book review (>6100 words), but this book is loaded with data worthy of an in-depth review.


1: We’ve Got the Whole World In Our Hands
2: The Call to Greatness
3: A Hothouse of Disbelief
4: Putting a Price on Inaction
5: Inputs and Feedbacks
6: Thermodynamics and You
7: Fighting Global Warming with … Bubbles?
8: Talkin’ ‘Bout Electrical Energy Generation
9: Stop the Burn – Don’t Frack that Gas
10: Nuclear Energy: Too Cheap to Meter… Again
11: One More Reactor (No, Make it Two)
12: Power of the Sun
13: Is the Answer Blowing in the Wind?
14: Down to the Wire
15: Let’s Transform the Grid
16: Dude, Where’s My Battery Pack
17: Quest for Storage
18: Bottling Sunshine with Moonshine
19: NASCAR – A Catalyst for Change
20: Got to Get Moving on Moving
21: Moving Our Masses
22: Rise of the Taxipod, Robotruck, and Bioplane
23: The Water-Energy Connection
24: Time to Get the Salt Out
25: Feeding the World
26: Bringing it all Back Home to Bill’s House
27: Quien es Was Verde – or, Keeping Up with the Begleys
28: Bill and Ed in a Fight for the Sun
29: Bill and Ed Get Into Hot Water
30: The Tap is Off and the Garden is Green
31: The Case for Space
32: Building a Better Rocket Equation
33: Do Humans have a Destiny in Space?
34: Setting a Fair Price for a Better Planet
35: The Unstoppable Species



“Climate change is coming, and it is coming right at you. Regardless of where you live on Earth, you will live to see your life or the lives of your kids and their friends change due to the overall warming of the planet.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 1

Bill Nye is no climate change denier. He knows enough of the science to know climate change is a real threat to life on Earth and it must be addressed now.

Bill was in China at a science conference and a student became his guide around Beijing and loaned Bill his father’s bike, as his guide’s family was successful enough to now own a car. That prompted this observation:

“That desire – to get more done with less effort – multiplied by billions of people who burn fossil fuels to satisfy that desire, is the root cause of climate change.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 1

He points out that everyone wants what we have in our country: cars, planes, readily available electricity, more electronic devices, more more more.

I’ve heard climate change deniers state that “God wouldn’t let humans change or damage the world he created.” Poppycock! I always counter with “Did you ever hear about nukes? We have far more than needed to change our climate and wipe out all life – God didn’t prevent them.” Bill points out that another species – cyanobacteria – once changed our climate by producing oxygen, which in turn killed off life that couldn’t tolerate oxygen. We humans aren’t the first to affect our climate, although we can hope we will change it back for the better while we can.

When I was young, our total population was 3 billion, and scientists wondered if we could handle feeding 6 or 7 billion people. We are over 7 billion now, and we do feed them, but now our concern is how adding so many new users of fossil fuels adds to climate change. And as more people are born, that means more fossil fuel users are adding to the carbon dioxide contribution in our atmosphere, and carbon dioxide levels directly impact the temperature of our planet.



“I encourage everyone to reject both of those sentiments (“The climate has always changed in the past and it will always change in the future”, and “We have to save Earth”) and think instead, “We have to save Earth – for us! For us humans!”
Unstoppable, Chapter 2

The first sentiment is a head-in-the-sand view on global warming, and the second is a misunderstanding that the Earth will be destroyed if we do nothing to save it. Both are wrong. We need to act now to counter the effects of global warming, and we need to understand that the effects of global warming could make Earth uninhabitable for humans.

I really liked the author’s question for climate change deniers:

“Would you trust a scientist or a politician who insisted, pounding his fist on the table, that there is no connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer?”
Unstoppable, Chapter 2

For decades, politicians and special interests (the Tobacco industry) denied cancer and smoking were linked, and the approaches they used for denying the smoking-cancer link are being used for climate change denial. Too many people that believed the politicians and cancer deniers died, trusting those people over scientists. Are you willing to let your children and grandchildren go through that same experience? The difference between climate change denial and smoking-cancer link denial, is that everyone on Earth is affected by climate change – you can’t stay away from second hand climate change the way you could stay away from second hand smoke. And, unlike smoking, you can’t quit climate change denial. We have to reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The author points out that, to address climate change, we will need to come up with solutions for energy to replace fossil fuels, better ways to transmit electricity, and better ways to store electricity. We also need to be able to convert seawater to drinkable water, grow more food and transport it using power sources other than fossil fuels.



The author studied astronomy with Carl Sagan when he went to Cornell University. I read Sagan’s books titled ‘Cosmos’ and ‘Pale Blue Dot’, and Sagan’s Cosmos video series is still one of my favorite science series ever produced. I think that explains Bill Nye’s audience friendly approach to discussing science, as Sagan was excellent at making complicated subjects understandable by novices. I forgot was how Sagan developed a computer model that showed how the greenhouse effect warms Earth – fortunately the author describes that and gives a simple yet clear explanation of global warming:

“A carbon dioxide molecule is linear. It’s an atom of oxygen connected to an atom of carbon, connected to an atom of oxygen, all in a row. It’s the right length and of the right atomic flexibility (or floppiness) to allow visible light, with wavelengths ranging between 390 and 700 nanometers (billionths of a meter) to pass right by. But, these molecules block the longer reradiated infrared rays (heat), whose wavelengths are about ten times as long as those of visible light. That heat-trapping ability is a feature of the size and shape of carbon dioxide molecules, and the length of waves they trap or let pass. Yes, this really is somewhat like what happens in a greenhouse.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 3

That is one of the easiest explanations why carbon dioxide is directly involved in global warming. The author goes on to explain that the extra heat trapped by increasing levels of carbon dioxide alters weather patterns and local climates around the world. It’s amazing that climate change, which has scientific consensus for 30 years, is still contested by climate change deniers. It is disappointing that the media allows climate change deniers to quote an article in Newsweek published in 1975, that suggests we were heading for a new ice age, not warming. Newsweek is not a science magazine, and we know a lot more about climate science than they did in 1975, yet this is rarely called out by the media when they let deniers state that as evidence scientists don’t know enough about climate to predict changes. The media should stop giving deniers, especially those without education climate science, equal footing with climate change scientists. And a little more fact checking would dispel these old claims that have long been disproven but are still raised by deniers.

“People who should (or do) know better keep confusing weather with climate. Weather is what happens day to day in one place. Climate is what happens over many years to a large geographic area, or the planet as a whole.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 3

This happened in February 2015, where Sen. James Inhofe brought a snowball to the senate floor and declared it proved global warming was a hoax, because it snowed somewhere. Funny, and quite wrong. This senator doesn’t understand climate change. And the argument that more carbon dioxide is good for plants is wrong, as it ignores that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more retained heat for our planet – not good, as that means some areas of the planet will become too warm or dry for plants to thrive.

Another concern climate scientists have concerns methane, as it has much more effect on global warming than carbon dioxide. Methane is trapped in ice, and will be released as more arctic/antarctic ice melts. Attacks on climate scientists, on the data used, on gases on that cause global warming, and on climate change models serves one thing: to delay a response to global warming.



The author lists costal cities that will be impacted by rising seas, and it’s not good. New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Venice, Mumbai and Qingdao will need major infrastructure changes to prevent being rendered useless. And these cities will be affected all too soon, as sea surges during storms will impact them long before the sea is thigh for the existing banks and dams. And don’t forget countries like the Netherlands that already have sea level issues. If people need to move inland to get away from the water, where will they go?

Transportation to new homes, food and water and clothing, as well as new equipment for jobs, updating existing infrastructures to accommodate new settlers, and creating new sea ports will cost a lot. And don’t forget, that land can be used for housing, work and food production – if more land is needed for housing, we will lose land that could generate food supplies.

And rising seas will result in flooding, which means water-born diseases and mosquito-born diseases, which will cost lives and time and money to address. And parasites normally unable to handle cold weather will flourish in new warmer climates. If we do nothing, the costs to address these problems will be overwhelming.



“A lump of coal is nearly pure carbon. When you burn it, each carbon atom hooks up with two oxygen atoms from the atmosphere to make carbon dioxide, CO2. An oxygen atom weighs one-third more than a carbon atom, so the greenhouse gases add up quickly. When you burn one kilogram of coal, you get 3 2/3 kilos of carbon dioxide.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 5

That’s a lot of gas that retains heat. In 2014, our atmosphere topped 400 parts per million for the first time in history. The author points out that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere isn’t the problem: the rate of change is. The rate that carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere is accelerating because there are more of us each day. More people means more need for power and food and transportation, meaning more carbon dioxide.

Bill describes a feedback loop in climate science: adding heat increases water evaporation. Warmer air holds more moisture than cooler air, so as air warms up, more moisture is evaporated. And water vapor traps heat too, so this addition of water vapor to the air demonstrates a positive feedback in climate science. When water reaches a certain altitude, clouds form, and clouds reflect sunlight into space, causing the Earth to get less sunlight and less heat. This effect of reflecting heat by clouds is negative feedback. But that isn’t all. Clouds low in the atmosphere reflect heat, but clouds high in the air actually reflect heat back down to the Earth, so high altitude clouds have a positive feedback.

Another example of feedback is arctic ice. When arctic ice exists, it reflects sunlight, which is negative feedback. When arctic ice melts, the darker seas absorbs more sunlight and heat, which is a positive feedback. And warmer seas mean more ice melts, so even more positive feedback. Not good. And warmer seas means disruption in sea currents, causing changes in air and ice and sea elsewhere, causing an even bigger positive feedback.



“But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics (the law that entropy always increases) I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”
Sir Arthur Eddington, Unstoppable Chapter 6

“The energy of motion is converted to the energy of heat all the time in just about everything we do. …
It (the Second Law) constrains all the efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions. In short, it is the foundational challenge to anyone who wants to improve the way we live without increasing the amount of energy we use.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 6

This chapter highlights one of the limits affecting the fight against global warming. Heat released as inefficient use of motion energy. There is only so far we can go to improve efficiency. Fascinating read and the one I’ve enjoyed most, so far.



This chapter deals with geoengineering, a proposed way to address global warming. The author explains that clouds and arctic/antarctic snow and water allow Earth to reflect around 30% of the solar energy that us, so we retain 70%. As we get warmer, there is less ice to reflect solar energy and so Earth gets hotter – not good.

One proposal to reduce the amount of solar energy the Earth retains is to inject bubbles into water. That works because bubbles are more reflective that calm water, and so the water with bubbles would reflect more solar energy. Another benefit of adding bubbles is that it reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation – very important in a world with dwindling natural resources like potable water. The author points out that, while this isn’t currently done intentionally, it could be worth the effort very soon.

If injecting bubbles could be done economically, and on a wide enough scale, it could reduce the solar energy we retain and help fight global warming. Other things that could help geoengineer Earth include adding more trees and more green growing things in the seas, as well as genetically engineer food sources to be lighter in color.



This chapter shows we as a society have dependence on electricity, and that we need to reduce the carbon used to generate that electricity.

“Electricity is actually a moving energy field, the pure energy of the cosmos, and that field travels at the speed of light.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 8

“Volts measure electrical pressure, amps measure flow, watts measure power. Power over time equals the total amount of energy. That’s why your electric utility bills you in terms of watt-hours.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 8



Coal generates power, but with a huge carbon footprint. so cleaner burning natural gas could be a temporary bridge to newer ways to generate electricity. Bill Nye points out that natural gas is, at best, a temporary solution and we need to leave it underground, due to release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is even more of a heat trap than carbon dioxide, and methane can leak into the air when fracking to extract natural gas.

The author explains how fracking has evolved over time, from vertical to horizontal fracking. Some states ban fracking, while other states like Oklahoma embrace fracking. The thing is, Oklahoma started experiencing earthquakes after extensive fracking, and now sees earthquakes at level 5 of the Richter scale where none were experienced in the pre-fracking days. Cities and buildings have been damaged enough to warrant evacuation, and the lessons learned in Oklahoma should be recognized by other states using fracking for natural gas extraction.

Tar sands, like those proposed to be carried by the Canadian Keystone pipeline, are far more dangerous to our environment. That is why I was surprised one of President Trump’s first acts as president was to approve the pipeline previously rejected by President Obama. As of July 2017, the Canadian company wanting the Keystone pipeline is reconsidering the need for it. Hopefully Canada will be more environment-friendly than our current Trump administration.

With the Trump administration’s anti-environment, pro-fossil fuel stance, Trump’s EPA director has been rolling back or refusing to implement regulations designed to protect the environment passed during President Obama’s term. What should scare reasonable people, is EPA head Scott Pruitt’s decision to ignore regulations to control methane pollution ( The courts have recognized the validity of these regulations established during President Obama’s administration and have sided with our world against the Trump administration, but one has to wonder why Trump’s administration is so bent on harming our planet. If you die from pollution, how much good does it do to have more money?



Chapter 10 focuses on nuclear energy – cleaner power plants than coal/gas fired plants, but with their own risks. The author explains how nuclear energy produces power, but isn’t sold on it as a bridge technology from fossil fuels to a clean power system.



The author gives a simple and clear explanation on the fundamentals of nuclear power plants and the risks they pose. Bill suggests a reactor with thorium may be safer than uranium or plutonium, and he discusses fusion, which has been discussed but not possible for forty years. Fusion would be clean and cheap, but not something we can handle right now.



Chapter 12 covers solar power: how it works, how efficient it is, and why it is a good carbon-free source of energy. We need better and less expensive solar panels on more homes, and that should happen over time. Bill points out that solar panels used in space are 40% efficient, whereas the ones homeowners can afford are around 15% efficient. Unfortunately, the US only produces about .4% of its power by solar energy and we need to make a lot more to replace coal-powered electricity to make a dent in our climbing carbon dioxide levels.

When I was young, people talked about having solar panels in space to gather energy and send it to Earth. Bill points out the difficulties with that approach and shows how individual power systems for buildings or a city would be more feasible.



Wind power. Clean energy and the US currently produces ~4.5% of its electricity from the wind. I’ve seen the wind farms in Iowa, many large windmills I’ve never seen stopped whenever I pass nearby. We could have more, and our previous administration encouraged wind power development over coal (a favorite of our current administration).

The author makes a great point about the feasibility of wind power replacing coal powered electricity. Costs for wind power have dropped to 2.1 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour), whereas coal-powered electricity costs 1.2 cents per kWh, so the cost increase for wind powered electricity is not unmanageable.

Bill describes how some hobbyists have rigged a propellor on the top of a boat to catch the wind, and linked it to a propellor under water to drive the boat through the sea. He says that this type of sail boat can drive straight into the wind (something anyone that ever sailed on a traditional sail boat will tell you is impossible). I’ve never seen these myself, but they sound really interesting.

Unlike solar power, wind power typically isn’t reliable during the middle of the day, when electrical energy needs are highest. And the wind does stop, and wind isn’t available everywhere, but the low cost and no carbon footprint of it make wind power a valid candidate to replace much of our coal-based electricity in the US.



Getting power from where it is generated to where it is used isn’t free nor simple. There are limitations to the efficiency of power being transferred. This chapter explains the details why there is power lost during transmission, so you understand why we need to get more efficient to reduce losses (and, in turn, reduce how much electricity we need to generate).



Chapter 15 covers the power grid – how we distribute power from different sources like hydroelectric dams, to cities and homes. The important items for discussion here are magnetism and electricity: two of my fav topics. Bill says that increasing efficiency and reduces losses by electrical devices will reduce our need for electrical power. He also explains how transformers work, stepping up and down voltage as needed. But don’t let that cause you to skip this chapter. Bill gets into power transmission issues, buckminsterfullerene and nanotubes of carbon atoms. Nanotubes made of carbon atoms would provide almost no power loss of electricity over long distances, but we can’t make them very long now (50 nm max) – Bill points out that solving this problem would be huge and would change the world.



Chapter 16 covers electric-powered cars. In 2007 I worked with a guy that had an electric car and he was proud of it. Unfortunately, he had a short drive (under 20 miles each way) and had to charge his car once he arrived at work and again when he arrived home. It may have been quite, but he told me the cost to replace the batteries would be more than buying a new car. Newer cars do much better these days, and the author is right that we should do more to move to electric cars.



This chapter covers the many many different types of power storage containers (batteries) we’ve used in the past and present. Interesting material, but near the end of the chapter Bill talks about gravity storage pistons, which are simple but potentially huge ways to store power for use when the sun or wind are unavailable. Fascinating subject and the first I’ve seen about it. Really really good information.



In chapter 18, Bill discusses how batteries are not the only means of storing power for off-hour consumption. Food like corn gets energy from the sun, and in turn can be fermented into ethanol, which can be drank or burned. Unfortunately, sun-to-corn-to-ethanol is not efficient (2% according to the author) so it isn’t a good standalone solution over fossil fuel. Sugar from sugarcane can also provide stored power – more than 2x what corn provides – and sugar can be fermented and produce alcohol too.

Bill brings up catalytic converters also. I remember when they were introduced and how some opposed them as too expensive and not likely to help with pollution. As we know today, and as Bill points out, they made a big difference in reducing pollution and weren’t too expensive for their intended purpose. The same arguments many deniers and fossil fuel industry shills make today about reducing carbon dioxide output – and the deniers are as wrong today as they were in the 70s.



I’m not a NASCAR fan. No problem with people that like it. Never developed a taste for it. Bill talks about NASCAR and how they use old auto tech to make races exciting, and (showing my age) I understood as I remember a time when cars had carburetors and pushrods. At least he didn’t bring up records yet (if you don’t know what they are, you are not old and you know how to use Google).



“almost a third of all energy we use in the United States goes to transportation. We use almost as much energy moving ourselves and our goods around as we use to produce or create those goods in the first place.”
Unstoppable, chapter 20

Bill points our our inefficiency moving power as a great place to start to address global warming. The author mentions that trains are 4x more efficient than a truck – a neat tidbit of knowledge – so trains are better at movement than trucks.



This chapter covers mass transit, pointing out that subways are far more efficient at movement than cars. The only unfortunate situation is that mass transit away from the New England area of the US (not including Chicago) usually relies on buses for mass transit, not trains or subways. I agree with Bill that riding public transportation lets passengers read or use their smart phones – something car drivers shouldn’t do while on the road (but, unfortunately, too often do while driving).

One year I worked as a consultant for a client that had showers onsite for the employees, as they encouraged their people to bike to work to conserve gas and reduce pollution. I wish this was the stance of more companies. For a while, many companies allowed their people to telecommute, but that policy comes and goes over time, and it has been cut back the past two years in the technology field.

Bill talks about the need for helmets when biking and I agree. I wear one when I bike outside, on a mountain bike or a road bike, and I wear a helmet when I ride a motorcycle. Being safe means more than looking cool to me. Biking is a great way to exercise, so any laws passed making it more convenient are ones I’ll always vote for – I hope you do too.



This chapter covers automated cars. We’ve seen stories about self-driven cars the past few years, and Bill believes this will happen and become the major method of transportation within cities in the future. That would make Elon Musk happy.

The idea of flying cars appealed to me, until I earned a pilot license. Ground school and CFIs proved that flying takes a lot more mental work than driving a car. Too many people mentally disengage while driving to talk, text, or play games – you can’t do that in a plane and survive long. Self-piloting planes (or helicopters, like Iron Man used in Captain America: Civil War) would be far safer.



Navy ships and subs distill their own water while at sea, whereas cruise ships lack the power needed to distill water, so they use membranes to filter out particles from water. The author points out that this second method would work for cities needing water. This was what I thought, when I considered the recent droughts affecting California, and I suspect this type of solution will happen sooner rather than later.



Mangroves are trees that can handle salty water – they filter out salt for useful water, and eject the salt on their leaves. The author points out that this is what we need to create – a system emulating mangroves. There is a material – graphene – that would work, but the cost of production and utilization could be a problem.



“the economic sector that uses the most of Earth’s resources and produces the largest environmental change is our agriculture. Our farms produce greater volumes of more greenhouse gases than all of our cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes combined.”
Unstoppable, chapter 25.

With a growing population, this means even more climate change. And we waste too much food. Most of my neighbors don’t eat leftover food, so it goes in the trash. We had leftovers in my family when I was growing up, so I have no issue using leftover food for lunches. The author talks about using GMFs (Genetically Modified Foods) that need less food and water to grow more food, and GMFs have have fans and dis-tractors for many years, but eventually we will need to rely on them to feed our people.



Bill looks for ways to use less energy in his own home. He uses solar power and talks about paying $10 every other month for an electricity bill. Now that is incredible. And he uses other systems to reduce power needs for lights and heating water. What is amazing is that he estimates he saves a tremendous amount of power usage for less than it costs for a nice SUV, and that savings is paid for in 10 years. If only more people did as much as Bill – maybe this will motivate more people to do the same.



Bill talks about his eco-friendly competition with neighbor Ed Begley Jr., and this is the type of competition we need to see more often if we want to beat global warming. Striving for more efficient uses of power and resources can only help: us save money and the planet save resources and energy used to gather those resources.

Bill had a reflector installed in his fireplace, which reflects more heat into the room. When I spent some time in a Scottish castle, it had one too, and the amount of heat that a few logs gave to the room was impressive. I sat back 20 feet from the fire and could still feel the warmth.



This chapter covers solar power panels and the cost benefits. His solar cells generate more power than he needs, so that power is sold back to the power company and he receives the money instead of a bill. Bill’s solar panels are 15% efficient, but I found a company online that says it gets 22.1% efficiency from their solar cells, which is a nice improvement.



The author uses solar power to heat water for his home, which is a cost saver. He also installed tankless water heaters, which I too have looked into, which instantly heat water and save money as there is no need to wait for running water to heat up. A good idea, and I plan to install solar heating and tankless water heaters in my next home for sure.



The author had a garden installed and used a system with multiple zones and a rain sensor to improve efficiency. I had a sprinkler system with the same arrangement (zones and rain sensor) installed after I built my home, and saw a 40-50% decrease in water used (according to water bills) than when using regular mobile sprinklers. It helped to be able to time the sprinklers to work during the middle of the night, and to be able to control the amount of water sent to each zone.



Finally, some numbers that intrigue me: space flight. The author shows why calculus is needed for rocket science: because burning fuel changes the weight of a space craft constantly. According to Bill, a 100% efficient rocket needs 500 million joules to life one ton of cargo to 62 miles (the beginning of space). To get into orbit, you need twice that amount of energy. To get into geosynchronous orbit (1 day for each time around the Earth), it takes 5000 million joules of energy. This energy does not count the rocket mass and fuel itself.

Air pressure against a rocket decreases as altitude increases.

“When the decreasing static pressure and increasing dynamic pressure reach a maximum, it is called max-q.”
Unstoppable, chapter 31

Max-q is dangerous for the rocket as the pressure on the nose of the space craft is maximum. The location where a space craft is launched is important as well, since launching near or at the equator means the Earth’s rotation will add to a craft’s orbital velocity.

Returning to Earth means getting rid of the energy used to get into orbit. When in low Earth orbit (like the ISS), one ton of payload must dissipate 30 billion joules of energy, and the easiest way to do that is use the friction of the atmosphere to convert energy into heat (the reason for good heat shields on space craft).

There. Bill provides the information you need to plan how much fuel you need to get your own space craft to space and back again.



The author states that most rockets use rocket fuel called RP-1 (Rocket Propellant #1), which is refined kerosene with chains of carbon atoms. All particulates are removed (which explains why the first launch in ‘The Astronaut Farmer’ failed so badly). Liquid hydrogen (used in Apollo and the space shuttle) contains more energy than RP-1.

A nice surprise in this chapter is the simple yet clear explanation of ion propulsion (xenon gas atoms propelled by electrical grid out of the craft, pushing it forward as the xenon leaves the craft. Since ion engines develop slow but constant power, they currently can only be used once in space, so you still need RP-1 to get to space.

Bill also talks about solar sail power. NASA launched their own NanoSail-D into orbit in 2011. The Planetary Society successfully launched LightSail in 2015, and they intend the next generation of this to launch in 2018.

The takeoff weight for airplanes is around 10% fuel, while the takeoff weight for space craft is 90%. Lighter materials affect both airplanes and space craft, and would lower takeoff fuel requirements.



“this common goal – to leave the world better than we found it.”
Unstoppable, chapter 33

As global warming is a modern threat, just as dangerous as ISIS and other terrorists, our generation needs to solve the global warming threat to our planet. That would make the world a better place – for us and for our children and grandchildren. We also need to explore space to learn more about life here and out there.

Mars facts that interest maybe just me in this chapter: atmospheric consists of carbon dioxide, air pressure is .7% that of Earth, average noontime high temperature is -40 C/F. Space craft can only depart for Mars every 26 months (due to orbits of Earth and Mars)



A carbon fee or carbon tax will work, if conservatives stop opposing it. This is the best way to tie economic considerations into carbon emissions, and it could be our best hope to reduce greenhouse gases.



“When I decided to write this book, I did it with one enormous goal in mind: I want to help change the world.”
Unstoppable, chapter 35

The issues and optional ways to address them are well covered in this book. Reasonable people being logical should have no issue with Bill’s suggestions, unless they have a special interest agenda that provides economic incentive to ignore the dangers of global warming. That incentive means that some of our politicians and policy makers put the interest of the fossil fuel industry ahead of their own families, friends and fellow countrymen. Is money worth more that human life? It shouldn’t be, but unfortunately it is.

Global warming is real. Doesn’t matter your political or religious affiliation, facts are facts. Radio and internet personalities, political scientists, and people drawing paychecks from think tanks paid by companies promoting fossil fuel use do not know better than people with advanced degrees in science. If that bothers you, you are being unreasonable and are fooling yourself.

I’ve seen vicious attacks on climate scientists by trolls on Twitter, whose arguments were worthless but these trolls were blinded by hate and refused to be reasonable and refused to accept that uneducated people cannot know as much about a subject as subject matter experts with advanced education on climate science. Why trolls with no or little hight school education feel like they can challenge these people on climate science is beyond me.

Either we fight this battle now, or allow our children and grandchildren to face much greater (and potentially unbeatable) challenges that we do at this time.



This book is well written, flows well and breaks down technical items enough for anyone (except senators on the payroll of fossil fuel companies) to understand the danger of global warming and the technical difficulties we must overcome to make changes to reduce our carbon output.

This book educates and informs people that really want an education on climate science. Deniers should read it as it disproves denier excuses intended to delay our fight against global warming. I can’t see how an honest denier could read this book and still fail to understand the dangers of global warming. I’d think even someone with an advanced degree in political science would understand the science explained in this book, clearly enough to realize they are hurting, not helping humanity.

I give it 5 stars out of 5 and recommend purchasing it. Students and adults will learn a lot about science, and it is not partisan. It is real, it is true, and it must be a wake up call to people trying to harm our world by fighting the fact that global warming is the biggest danger to our species right now.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Title: The Madhouse Effect
Author: Michael E. Mann, Tom Toles
ISBN: 978-0231177863
Published: Columbia University Press (September 27, 2016)
Price: $24.95 hardback/$11.50 paperback/$13.49 Kindle (7/17)
Length: 208 pages

I’ve studied science since I was a child, and what still amazes me is how people with little or no science education find some science topics offensive.  When I was young, evolution concerned some religious people. The theory of evolution wasn’t intended to affront religion, as many scientists have religious beliefs, but the idea our world could be older than 6000 years angered some that calculate the age of the Earth using the Bible.  Scientists weren’t trying to disprove religion.  They were trying to understand why things on our planet changed to what we see today.

Another topic scientists studied when I was young was the dangers of smoking.  Smoking was socially acceptable, long after scientific studies showed smoking increased the risk of cancer.  Powerful special interests (the tobacco industry) did not want these scientific studies about the dangers of smoking to affect their sales, so they had others publish conflicting studies that tobacco was safe.  The tobacco industry’s fight against scientific studies lasted decades, until the tobacco industry finally ceased their war and settled huge lawsuits from people affected by smoking.  These days, some people smoke, but people no longer argue about the dangers of using tobacco.

The current scientific topic under attack by special interests is climate change.  The science concerning climate change is accepted by 97% of scientists trained in this area, but special interests that have products (coal, gas, oil) that contribute to global warming and have declared war on science.  These special interests pay politicians and hire their own experts to try to create doubt in the minds of the public.  Why?  So they can continue to sell products that are endangering our world.

I believe when you see something troubling, you need to learn more about it so you can discuss the topic intelligently.  No one of ordinary intelligence should want others to provide their own talking points, as that restricts how much is really known about the subject.  People should read this book because it was written by a scientist trained in climate change, and it is illustrated by an award winning illustrator that shows the issues with people attacking the science of climate change.  Let’s get into this fascinating book.

Book Chapters

Ch 1: Science: How it Works
Ch 2: Climate Change: The Basics
Ch 3: Why Should I Give a Damn?
Ch 4: The Stages of Denial
Ch 5: The War on Climate Science
Ch 6: Hypocrisy – Thy Name is Climate Change Denial
Ch 7: Geoengineering, or “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”
Ch 8: A Path Forward

Science: How it Works

The first chapter of this book explains science, so people without formal education in science understand how science works.  Why was this needed in a book on climate change?  Because many people believe there is some global conspiracy by scientists to promote climate change – completely wrong.  Some believe scientists gets rich researching climate change – ridiculous.  Let’s look at Dr. Mann’s explanation of science.

“Science is unique among human endeavors in the “self-correcting” machinery (to quote the famous Carl Sagan) by which it is governed.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 1

Self-correcting means science continues to study topics, trying to learn more and making corrections when it is mistaken.  Science embraces skepticism, as it strives to improve what it understands.  Dr. Mann points out a truth known by people that accept scientific consensus on global warming.

“Unfortunately, the term skeptic has been hijacked, especially in the climate change debate, to mean something entirely different.  It is used as a way to dodge evidence that one simply doesn’t like.  That, however, is not skepticism but rather contrarianism or denialism, the wholesale rejection of validated, widely accepted scientific principles on the basis of opinion, ideology, financial interest, self-interest, or all of these together.”

The Madhouse Effect, pages 1&2

It’s one thing to dislike something you hear.  It’s wrong to insist on new or alternate facts (a term used by Kellyanne Conway) that attack something you disagree with.  A professor at my college had an excellent sign on his wall, addressing this issue:

“You are entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.”

But these climate change deniers don’t only want their own facts; they also attack the motives of scientists studying climate change.  These “skeptics” lack a college education, or never took a science course in an accredited college, and they believe that scientists have an economic advantage to promote global warming.  Poppycock!  I studied science in college (biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry) and I never met a wealthy science professor.  The people I met in college studying or teaching science were motivated by learning and helping solve scientific questions and peer recognition, not money.   And climate science is far from the best paying fields these days.  I do not doubt there are some scientists that are wealthy, but people that study science are not in it for the money.

There is another misconception about science that is covered in chapter one: the belief that scientists are motivated to work together to promote something so they get research funds.  Baloney!  Scientists that find and reveal something different than what is widely accepted are the ones that get research funds and peer recognition.   Scientists are looking for issues with global warming, and it is to the benefit of any scientist to publish any studies that show if they find problems with the consensus belief.  And the mythological “super scientist” that tells all other scientists around the world what to say or teach or publish on climate change is rubbish.  Anyone suggesting a super scientist calls the shots in any field demonstrates they never took a science class in their life.

Special interests with an agenda affected by global warming use the same tool the tobacco industry used to counter studies that tobacco was dangerous: doubt.  They try to counter scientific evidence any way that causes the public to doubt the science.  This war on science is not new, but it is disappointing that many forget the tobacco industry attacks on science and how they parallel those used today against climate change.

Climate Change: The Basics

“The basics of climate science are actually very simple and always have been.  Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat, and we are adding more CO2 to the atmosphere.  The rest is details.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 15

I heard Senator James Inhofe (of Oklahoma in senate meetings) deny Carbon dioxide is involved in global warming.  Senator Inhofe is not a scientist, does not have education in climate studies, and is 100% wrong about carbon dioxide.   Senator Inhofe also brought a snowball to the senate and tossed it on the floor and proclaimed it proved that global warming was not an issue – rubbish!

There are other factors that impact global warming, but those factors do not change the fact that carbon dioxide is increasing in our atmosphere and carbon dioxide traps heat and so it contributes to global warming.

“Next time that cantankerous uncle of yours whom you see every Thanksgiving tells you that the greenhouse effect is “controversial new science,” remind him that it’s actually basic physics and chemistry that go back nearly two centuries.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 16

Scientists have studied climate change for nearly two centuries, and have known that carbon dioxide has a heat trapping property since the days of Joseph Fourier.  As Dr. Mann points out, Svante Arrhenius recognized the correlation that burning fossil fuels cause the earth temperature to increase.  That is enough evidence that climate study is a mature science.

We have ice cores dating back thousands of years, and scientists can use them to determine how much carbon dioxide was in the air in earlier periods, and are adding carbon dioxide at an alarming rate!

Global warming is indicated by more than regular heat waves, like we have been experiencing, especially in Senator Inhofe’s state of Oklahoma.  Climate scientists warn that wind patterns will start to change which can produce dry spells like those recently experienced in Texas and Senator Inhofe’s state of Oklahoma.  Other warning signs of global warming are increased flooding in same areas that have dry spells, such have also occurred in California.

A major reason for concern about global warming: rising sea levels, as they impact our coastal cities.  Dr. Mann’s book mentions the antarctic ice sheet melting as a problem, and a major part of that ice sheet broke off on July 18, 2017.  This trillion ton iceberg will be a navigation hazard until it melts, which will result in increased sea levels.

Dr. Mann points out global warming doesn’t necessarily mean that tornadoes will increase in frequency or intensity, but hurricanes should get worse.  Do we really want another Katrina?  Dr. Mann also points out that we can’t say for certain that global warming causes a specific heat wave or storm or flood, but global warming should increase how often these three events occur – increased events means increased damage.

Some of the dangers of global warming already are affecting us, but that doesn’t mean we should give up.  Decreasing carbon dioxide output by reduced dependence on burning fossil fuels will slow down changes we may not be able to recover from, but we still need to deal with too much carbon dioxide in the environment if we want to reduce the impact of this danger to our world.

Why Should I Give a Damn?

If you want a wake-up call to the seriousness of global warming, check out Tole’s illustration on page 30.  Not looking good right now.

“And if you think the effects <of global warming> will be felt only in some far away corner of the globe where only polar bears and penguins live, think again.  The consequences of a changing climate are occurring everywhere and, yes, likely right near you, affecting you, your family, your friends, your community.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 31

That’s right.  We are not alone in the world; we are all in this together.  Global warming doesn’t change based on politics, country borders (with and without walls), or fervent religious beliefs.  Everyone on Earth has a stake in global warming – some more so than others, but still we are all at risk.  This next quote of Dr. Mann should get your attention:

“Dreams of slowly adapting to climate change will have to be replaced with the hard reality of an ever-escalating pace of of disruption and unpredictability.

In what ways will the effects of climate change be felt?  In nearly every way.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 32

Do you want to know what will be effected by climate change?  This is a list:

  • Security – national and alliance security will be affected by changing shorelines;  people losing homes to rising seas need to go somewhere, and other countries as destinations will happen when the arable land of a country is gone.
  • Food – likely less food due to changing weather patterns, increasing temperatures affecting crop production rates and viability;  increasing population and decreasing food supplies is a sure recipe for conflict.
  • Water – more sea water, less fresh water, so another reason for water and land conflicts between haves and have nots;  the Keystone pipeline rejected by the Obama administration could potentially polute freshwater sources for millions of Americans, and that pipeline was approved by the Trump administration.  Ocean acidification is a very serious threat to the creatures living in it and to those of us dependent on the bounties of the ocean: food.
  • The Food-Water-Energy Nexus – using food sources like corn as energy source (ethanol) will be more problematic when more people need food.
  • Land – 33% of the population live within 60 miles of the ocean coastline, and 10% live within 30′ above sea level, and with rising seas and increasingly dangerous hurricanes, those people need to move inland – competing with agriculture and livestock for living space; we have a finite amount of land, so this is a problem when the population continues to grow.
  • Health – heat stroke, malnutrition, flooding and droughts affecting nutrition availability, mosquito-born diseases and water-born diseases, and asthma and allergies will kill a lot more than currently die.
  • Ecosystems – the Arctic, great barrier reef, and snow-covered mountains will be impacted by the rate of climate warming – shouldn’t we want these wonders to be around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy?  As ecosystems disappear, so will other species, and some reports show global warming could kill up to 1/3 of all living species within 50 years – that is a tragedy.
  • Economy – it will cost a lot to move food and water to areas lacking them, and it will cost money to pay for increasing health issues, and relocating people means increasing infrastructure costs as well as transportation and food costs; people making insurance claims to cover their losses mean insurance companies will raise rates to cover their losses, also affecting the economy.
  • Ethics – the current Trump administration is intent on rolling back changes made during the Obama administration that were intended to fight global warming.  The worse thing President Trump did was withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  This president’s cabinet is an assembly of people from the very industries (coal, oil and gas) that have a vested interest in keeping us dependent on fossil fuels, so we have President Trump to thafor vastly increasing carbon dioxide emissions, causing even more global warming than was forecast during the Obama administration.  The ethics of letting the very industries impacting global warming have control of the EPA and other government agencies intended to help and not harm Americans cannot be whitewashed – President Trump’s only legacy is that he did everything wrong climate-wise to help America and the world.

If you aren’t concerned after reading this chapter, you either plan on dying soon without an heir or are in denial.   In either case, this problem is the legacy of our generation if we do nothing to address it, or if we let politicians with a personal economic agenda destroy our chances for a better world in the future.

The Stages of Denial

“climate change is (1) real, (2) caused by humans, and (3) a grave threat, one might rightfully ask how it is that some of our most prominent elected officials can still deny that climate change is even happening.

The answer, of course, is that climate change denial isn’t really about the science; it is instead about the politics.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 53

The stages of climate change denial:

  1. It’s not happening – I do not understand why non-scientists believe they can reject the findings of scientists.  If you lack the education and background, why believe you know better than trained and educated professionals?  Of all stages, this one is the most puzzling one to me.  I’ve heard US senators deny carbon dioxide levels in the air has increased at all – EVEN THOUGH SCIENTISTS CAN PROVE IT HAS!Sometimes deniers cherry-pick data to use time ranges that don’t show temperatures rising, while ignoring long term trends that clearly show our planet is getting warmer.  It’s sad that some of these deniers rely on sites promoting inaccurate date or falsified data analysis sources, and worse that some of them state that organizations like NASA and NOAA would stoop to falsifying data to show warming trends.
  2. OK. It’s happening…but its natural – this approach tries to claim that temperatures were warming in the past, like the medieval times, but science has show the overall temperature of the Earth was cooler in the medieval times.  Essentially, this line of denial promotes the view that, since the Earth was warmer in the past, humans cannot be the source of current warming trends – poppycock!
  3. The problem is self-correcting anyway – WRONG!!  To believe that self-correcting environmental mechanisms will handle the unprecedented increase in carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere is wishful thinking or it is still trying to deny we need to make changes now to address carbon dioxide buildup.  The Tole illustration on page 60 covers this form of denial in a humorous manner.
  4. And it will be good for us – proposing that plants love carbon dioxide and will flourish with more, ignores the fact that regions of the world already borderline on high temperatures will reach conditions where plant production will decrease or cease completely.  How can rising sea levels be good for people living in coastal regions? Two prominent deniers (Bjorn Lomborg and Roger Pielke Jr, both with background in political science, not climate science) use this approach to argue against global warming or against the need to make changes to address global warming.  I doubt that people who listen to political scientists instead of climate scientists on climate change are probably not interested in scientific facts.
  5. It’s too late or too expensive to act – when you consider the costs to transport food and water to places unable to provide them, when you consider infrastructure changes needed to adapt to the loss of food or water, and the costs to provide medicine to those impacted by global warming, it doesn’t seem to be cheaper than developing and promoting technologies besides fossil fuel-driven systems.
  6. We’ll find some simple techno fix anyway – that’s optimistic but it may be inaccurate, and would you really want to try nothing now and make the problem worse for your children and grandchildren?

The truth about these forms of denial, per Dr. Mann:

“There is no simple way out.  Ultimately, we’re left with one real solution: reducing our collective carbon footprint.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 67

The War on Climate Science

Tole’s illustration on page 68 (at the start of chapter 5) does sum up denier mentality about their war on climate science.

“The war on science can be traced back more than half a century, beginning with the activities of the tobacco industry in the 1950s.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 69

Considering the current republican view on global warming (they deny it), it is amusing when Dr. Mann points out that President Richard Nixon (republican) created the EPA, considering the irony that current US President Donald Trump assigned former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the administrator to the EPA.

What I find interesting, is that republican presidents Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan signed legislation that was pro-environment and regulated industries that caused environmental problems, whereas President Trump seems intent on siding with industries like the coal, oil and gas industries against legislation protecting the environment.  Tom Toles illustration on page 73 is appropriate, and humorous.

What could motivate people to attack climate science?  Would an answer of “money” surprise anyone?  Industries producing coal and oil and gas generate a lot of money, and in turn can pay people to provide ways to attack climate science. A quote from Upton Sinclair is appropriate:

“As for money, the famous Upton Sinclair quip “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” is once again relevant.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 75

While climate change deniers charge that real climate scientists have a motive to promote global warming, industry-financed think tanks actually paid people, providing a motive to deny climate change.  In this case, the people making the charge of money-driven-motives were actually guilty of that themselves.  This is similar to the approach of modern republican politicians that attack democrats and them decry the anger in modern politics.  Very hypocritical, to anyone being honest about the situation.

This chapter includes a list of prominent climate change deniers, as well as groups that promote climate change denial, and is a must read the next time you see someone claim that ‘climate science doesn’t prove global warming.’ Speaking of hypocrisy …

Hypocrisy – Thy Name is Climate Change Denial

Tom Toles’ illustration on page 90 sums up the concept in chapter 9: hypocrisy.

“The best examples of hypocrisy can, of course, be found in the words and actions of politicians who deny climate change. Many have quite literally buried their heads in the sand when it comes to the threat of climate change.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 91

Politicians are supposed to put the good of their constituents ahead of party or special interests, but many do not when it comes to climate change.  Why?  YOU should ask them at town halls, by writing letters and sending emails, and show up at their offices and ask why they disagree with educated professionals that know the subject of climate change better than any politician.  If you like poetic justice, you need to read about the attack on Dr. Mann (for the horrible sin of studying – are you ready? – climate change!) by Virgnia’s former attorney general (and now oyster farmer) Cuccinelli, who lost his bid for Virginia’s governor in 2013.  Cuccinelli lost to Govenor Terry McAuliffe, who is a politician that accepts scientists appraisal on climate change.

I am a native Floridian, and follow the news (and Dolphins) whenever possible.  I am unhappy to see how Gov. Rick Scott has done everything he could to fight climate change, even though most models show Florida will be devastated by rising sea levels.  I saw the news that Dr. Mann mentions: Gov. Scott banning the words ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ in all Florida state official communications.  Talk about putting special interests ahead of your own people!

I have family that live in Oklahoma, so I follow the weather there.  I’ve seen when their senator James Inhofe attacks climate change whenever possible.  I saw on CNN when he brought a snowball to the floor of the US Senate, dropped it, and proclaimed it was proof global warming was not real (Tom Toles’ illustration on page 96 is probably aimed at Inhofe).  Dr. Mann mentions two times he testified in congress about global warming, when Sen. Inhofe was trying to attack it, and the second time was interesting as Sen. Inhofe had invited science fiction writer Michael Crichton to testify.  Wow.  Why doesn’t he ask David Brin, a science fiction writer as well as a real scientist?  Because David Brin isn’t a climate change denier and I doubt he’d agree with Sen. Inhofe at all.

Joe Barton, representative from Texas, also is a climate change denier, and is well known for telling one of his constituents to ‘shut up’ during a town hall meeting.  He not only tries attacking climate science.  He also apologized to British Petroleum when they were called in to explain an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that did a lot of damage to the creatures in the area.  How can any politician apologize for asking a company to explain what happened during an ecological disaster?  And don’t forget that Texas lost a lot of cattle recently to a drought (yes, caused by climate change).  If Joe is your rep, you probably should be asking him why he doesn’t accept scientific consensus on climate change.

Texas Senator ‘Lyin’ Ted Cruz (President Trump gave him that nickname, not me) also embraces climate change denial as a way to get support for his political aspirations.   He ran once for president and will probably do so again. Sen. Cruz is not the most popular man in the senate, with his fellow senators, and Senator John McCain once famously called him a ‘wacko bird’.

Then there is Lamar Smith, another Texas republican representative, who uses his position as chair of the house committee on Science, Space, and Technology to attack science itself by redefining the science peer review process, issued subpoenas to NOAA asking for personal emails because they published a study disputing that global warming stopped, and he tried to cut NASA’s earth science budget to depress climate change study.  Rep. Smith is vocal and actively opposing climate change, and someone that prefers Breitbart News’ stance on climate change over scientists at NASA and NOAA.

Climategate was a contrived attack on climate science itself, and the people behind it cooked emails stolen from a server in the UK to make it appear that climate scientists themselves did not believe in global warming.  After numerous studies in the US and UK, it was proven that emails stolen from scientists were cherry picked for anything that cast a doubt on climate change.  The next time you see a reporter or politician rage about some issue on TV, maybe you should email or tweet and ask why no one is looking for the people behind Climategate?  Could that be An Inconvenient Truth?

The press, in an attempt to be fair, has given deniers an equal chance to state their opposition to climate change.  The problem with that, is that deniers don’t use valid science, they use contrived facts or situations to make their point, so the press has helped the deniers raise more doubt instead of showing them for being tools of special interests.  And Dr. Mann points out something I hope every denier hears and remembers:

“History will judge the actors in this debate, and many will be judged harshly.  By that time, unfortunately, it will be too late.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 115

The important thing to take away from this chapter, is that politicians have evidence of climate change – storms, hurricanes, droughts – and they still fight efforts to address it.  Isn’t it time to vote for people that care what kind of world we leave our children and grandchildren?

Geoengineering, or “What could possibly go wrong?”

Some climate change denialists promote that we will just make changes to our environment instead of needing to curtail use of fossil fuel.   Our climate is complex, so this ‘simple answer’ deludes people into thinking we can easily fix the problem down the road.  The danger of this is two-fold.

One – we stop trying to fix things now, with the hope of some tech advance in the future, which means our temperatures and seas continue to rise until that happens.  Two – that we come up with some tech solution but it has unintended side effects.  If you saw Chris Evans’ movie Snowpiercer, you  understand how this can be dangerous.

A possible solution, using artificial trees to remove carbon dioxide, is something I’d considered as viable, but the costs to implement as well as the development costs and implementation mechanism are still a too much to consider viable.

Some of the things proposed have never been done, have huge engineering issues to overcome, will not make the changes we need with any certainty, and will probably be outrageously expensive (which will cause politicians to again rage and say no).  It would be far less expensive, have faster results, and make life better for everyone, if we just deal with our excess carbon dioxide right now?  Wouldn’t it be safer and more responsible to use the means we have now – reduce use of fossil fuels and increase energy sources like solar and wind energy – than to risk the lives and health of our children and grandchildren?

The Path Forward

“The time for wishing for climate policy action has long passed.  The time for demanding it has come.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 131

Now for some scary facts:

“Human beings currently emit more than 30 gigatons (30 billion tons) of carbon dioxide pollution ever year.

If we want to avoid planetary warming of 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C)- or what many observers consider “dangerous warming”, though, as we have noted, others might reasonably argue that’s already too much – we have a very limited “carbon budget” left to work with.  No more than 1 trillion tons or so of carbon dioxide.

At the current rate of 30 gigatons per year, we will burn through our budget in about three decades.  To remain within the budget, we have to reduce emissions by several percent a year, bringing them down to 33 percent of current levels within twenty years.”

The Madhouse Effect, page 132

Why is this scary?  Because one way we could reduce our carbon output was negotiated through the Paris Climate Accord, which President Obama signed us up for, and President Trump removed us from this year.

The concerted effort of the Trump administration to remove all climate and ecological bills and rules implemented by the Obama administration is nothing short of blind trust in special interests and absolute blindness in trusting science.  The effects will be catastrophic, and we have President Trump to thank for causing incredible harm to our planet.  And our allies in countries that actually understand we need to make a change to save our world?  Well, they are shocked and appalled that the US would not lead the efforts to save our planet, and that our current administration is intent on making climate change even worse.

It shouldn’t matter what your political party is, as this affects everyone on our planet.  Removing the US from an agreement that all but two countries signed, which addressed climate change, is inexcusable.  That was no reason to do so, except that special interests in fossil fuel industry didn’t want us to cut back on using fossil fuel.

If you want to help save our world, stop accepting that politicians are more honest than scientists.  Stop accepting false statements from special interests, and start studying climate change from real sources, not shock jocks or people with agendas.  Write and email your congressman and let them know you care about your world.  Stop remaining silent when you hear people making false claims about climate change- that is silent support for their position.

Take a science class at a local junior college or university and see and speak with real scientists.  And realize that people with degrees in law or political science are not climate science, and climate scientists do not get rich promoting climate change.  In other words, you have to do something now, while we still can make a difference.  Be responsible, and make this world better for your descendants.  I promise you, they will remember what you did and did not do to fight this disaster.  You can make a difference.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile for this planet Earth.


If you read this book and still aren’t convinced global warming is a serious threat to life on our planet, I have a question for you.  If you are ill, do you go to a Political Scientist with a doctorate or visit a medical doctor?  Why should you follow advice from someone without the proper credentials and education?  Why would you trust the word of politicians over scientists?

This is an excellent book on climate change for everyone, especially climate warming skeptics.  As with any subject, you learn when you keep an open mind.  The writing flows well, is informative and logically ordered, and the Toles comics are a great addition that help provide humor and information to the book.  After reading The Madhouse Effect, I looked through all of Tole’s comics several times, and I still chuckled as he nails the deniers reactions.

I give this book 5 stars out of a possible 5, and strongly encourage people to read it.  Climate change is one of the most important issues of our day, and it directly affects our children and grandchildren, so people need to learn all they can.  What do we say about ourselves as people, if we pass along a world we destroyed to our descendants,  without trying to fix the problems?

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

A few months ago I wrote a short piece how a Scottish non-scientist named Chris Monckton has been traveling the globe denying global warming using unverifiable or misrepresented facts. Professor John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering posted a point-by-point rebuttal to one of Monckton’s presentations at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota and Monckton was furious, insulting the Professor (whom he called “a parboiled shrimp”), the university (he called a “half-assed Bible college”), and the head of the university (Father Dease). While insulting the school and university professionals associated with Professor Abraham, Monckton has threatened to sue the professor and the school for defamation. Seems odd that someone publically insults others chooses to insist that he is the one being defamed, doesn’t it?

A new story from Susan Alexander (a writer at UST) addressing this issue was released yesterday. Susan’s piece was well-written and it helps bring the public up to date on the situation with Monckton and global warming. Please go here to read it.

IMHO, the biggest skeptics about global warming seem to either be non-scientists, meteorologists, politicians with a political agenda, or the oil industry. It seems most scientists, including climatologists, agree global warming is very real. Many former skeptics now accept global warming is real, is impacting life on our planet, and feel it must be addressed now before it has too dramatic an effect on the people of our world. Even Monckton can use Wolfram|Alpha to generate graphs like the one below:

I know I’m merely a computer scientist (not as science-focused as a degree in classical studies), but that graph looks like it is climbing, not dropping, during the past 100 years. To reproduce this graph for yourself, click here.

Monckton is entitled to his opinions, but it seems rather odd that a man without climate-related academic credentials is trying to take on a tenured professor with credentials and knowledge. As for me, I think I’ll side with Professor Abraham and accept global warming is a real threat to our species.

A larger concern is that newly elected conservatives are threatening scientists that speak up about global warming. A good article on this was recently published in the Star Tribune. Go here to read it.

For a link to Professor Abraham’s rebuttal to Monckton’s feeble attempt at rebutting the good professor, check out this blog.

By Harry Babad © Copyright 2010, All right Reserved.


Read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes at:

That introduction also tells a little about my information sources, all of which — pro and con — are referenced. On the sometimes negative, to my views side, I also pick up items from Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists, when they provide source references I can check, and authors whose technical credentials background I can verify.

Article selection — my blog – my choice — are obviously and intentionally biased by my education, training, experience and at rare times my emotional, philosophical and intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send us feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Since my tid-bits are only a partial look at the original article, click through on the links I always provide if you want more details, as well as <often> added references on the same topic(s).


Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, The New Snippets

  • ‘Radioactive Boars’ on the Loose in Germany
  • Dog Poop Has a Bright side: Powering a Massachusetts Park lamp
  • How to Cool an Electric Power Plant
  • The Earth Doesn’t Care About What is Done To or For It.
  • The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale — INES is 20 years Old
  • In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming
  • Recycling Land for Green Energy Ideas and projects
  • Clear-Cutting {forests} Has a High Cost
  • Pedego® Electric Bikes and SiGNa Chemistry Demonstrate a High Density Power Solution for Electric Bicycles

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‘Radioactive Boars’ on the Loose in Germany

Berlin – Radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is still poisoning Germany’s boars nearly 25 years on, with authorities fighting to keep the {slightly} toxic meat off the market as the wild boar population rockets. The boars feed off mushrooms, truffles and wild berries which still contain higher than permitted levels of cesium-137, carried in the radioactive cloud that spread across Europe following the 1986 accident at the Ukrainian nuclear plant.

Cesium has a half-life of about 30 years so almost half of what was deposited as fall out had disappeared by natural decay. In addition, radio cesium contain compounds, indeed most cesium compounds are water-soluble. Much of that original fallout was washed deeply into the subsurface or diluted as runoff during the rains that keep the forests of Germany so green; but that’s another story.

“No one has fallen seriously ill after eating boar meat,” said Emrich, but all boar hunters in high-risk areas must have their game tested for radioactive contamination before it can go on sale in market stalls. According to the Bavarian health and food safety, nine of the 56 boars analyzed last year showed contamination well above the allowed level of 600 Becquerels per kilogram of meat, with some as much as twice the limit. < Snake oil anyone? >

The EPA has established a limit of 370 Becquerels per kilogram of meat in 1998 for imported food. The limit for domestic food is 1,200 Becquerels per kilo. As is usual with such guidelines, the calculations are based on the linear no threshold theory that is undergoing more scientific challenges and will ultimate be defined as invalid as this generation of regulators and health physicists, with vested interests in their reputations, dies out.

On the other hand the bioaccumulation of cesium in mushrooms, truffles and wild berries, which the boars feed off “still contained high levels of cesium-137 of up to 100 Becquerels”. < Help, this is below the regulatory limit so either this is much ado about nothing or is someone running for reelection. >  Note this too is a case of bioaccumulations (e.g., 100 to 600 Bqs since bears eat lots of mushrooms.

Doc wonders why American could eat all of these foods safely, when some German’s are concerned about them, however we were not in the direct path of the fallout from Chernobyl. …As far as the costs of all this European regulation to German tax payers, click though and find out why you pay the piper for over- regulation.

‘Radioactive boars’ on the loose. News, July 8, 2010

Background References

European Cesium Limits in Food —

EPA Food Safety Standards for Radionuclides. US Food and Drug Administration

Linear No Threshold [LNT] model. Wikipedia; See the first several paragraphs.

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Dog Poop Has a Bright side: Powering a Massachusetts Park lamp

It stinks and it’s a hazard to walkers everywhere, but it turns out dog poop has a bright side. Dog poop is lighting a lantern at a Cambridge dog park as part of a months long project that its creator, artist Matthew Mazzotta, hopes will get people thinking about not wasting waste.

The “Park Spark” poop converter is actually two steel, 500-gallon oil tanks painted a golden yellow, connected by diagonal black piping and attached to an old gaslight-style street lantern at the Pacific Street Park.

After the dogs do their business, signs on the tanks instruct owners to use biodegradable bags supplied on site to pick up the poop and deposit it into the left tank. People then turn a wheel to stir its insides, which contain  the waste and water. Microbes in the waste give off methane, an odorless gas that is fed through the tanks to the lamp and burned off. The park is small but has proven busy enough to ensure a steady supply of fuel.

The lamp, a shining example of how humans can make use of an underutilized and perpetually renewable energy source — feces — is the brainchild of Matthew Mazzotta, a conceptual artist who studied at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who wanted to give back to the community.

The Seattle Times by JAY LINDSAY Associated Press Writer September 22, 2010 …and …

AOL News:

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How to Cool an Electric Power Plant

Thermoelectric power plants, whether fossil-fueled or nuclear, require cooling water systems. The fuel source—uranium, coal or natural gas—heats water into steam, which drives a turbine generator that produces the electricity.

The exhausted steam from the turbine must be condensed back to water and recycled to the steam generator or boiler to begin the process anew. This condensation occurs by passing it through a heat exchanger—or condenser—where low-temperature cooling water absorbs the heat of the steam and cools it down to water again.

The majority of power plants use one of two types of cooling water systems. In a once-through or open-cycle cooling system, water is withdrawn from a water source, such as a lake, river or reservoir. The water passes through the condenser and is then returned to its original source, with a negligible amount of heat transferred to the aquatic environment.

In a recirculation or closed-cycle system, cooling water is pumped from the condenser to a “wet” cooling tower, where the heat of the water transfers to the ambient air by evaporation. The resulting lower temperature cooling water is then returned to the condenser, and the amount of water that evaporates in the cooling tower is replenished.

Once-through systems will draw more water than recirculating systems, but consume little of it—on average; only about 1 percent of the water withdrawn is ultimately consumed. Recirculating systems withdraw much less water than once-through systems, but consume about 70 percent to 90 percent of what they withdraw by evaporation in the cooling towers. Cooling towers consume about twice as much water as once-through systems.

Both systems typically withdraw only a very small quantity of water relative to the overall size of the water bodies on which they are located—typically 1 percent to 2 percent of the average river flow. The cooling water at nuclear plants that is returned to lakes and rivers is never made radioactive and is entirely safe.

The electric power industry is pursuing strategies to use less water, less fresh water, or no freshwater at all for plant cooling. There’s more, check it out.

Nuclear Energy Insight, July 2009.

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The Earth Doesn’t Care About What is Done To or For It. I know this violates the dreams of all faithful Gaia Worshipers

The cover of The American Scholar quarterly carries an impertinent assertion: “The Earth Doesn’t Care if You Drive a Hybrid.” The essay inside is titled “What the Earth Knows.” What it knows, according to Robert B. Laughlin, co-winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics, is this: What humans do to, and ostensibly for, the earth does not matter in the long run, and the long run is what matters to the earth. We must, Laughlin says, think about the earth’s past in terms of geologic time.

For example: The world’s total precipitation in a year is about one meter—“the height of a golden retriever.” About 200 meters—the height of the Hoover Dam—have fallen on earth since the Industrial Revolution. Since the Ice Age ended, enough rain has fallen to fill all the oceans four times; since the dinosaurs died, rainfall has been sufficient to fill the oceans 20,000 times. Yet the amount of water on earth probably hasn’t changed significantly over geologic time.

Damaging this old earth is, Laughlin says, “easier to imagine than it is to accomplish.” There have been mass volcanic explosions, meteor impacts, “and all manner of other abuses greater than anything people could inflict, and it’s still here. It’s a survivor.”

Laughlin acknowledges that “a lot of responsible people” are worried about atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. This has, he says, “the potential” to modify the weather by raising average temperatures several degrees centigrade and that governments have taken “significant, although ineffective,” steps to slow the warming. “On the scales of time relevant to itself, the earth doesn’t care about any of these governments or their legislation.”

This is an incisive and deeply troubling, to me, article. Check the link and read the rest — feedback is welcome. Why troubling? It goes against all my beliefs.

Laughlin concludes his article by noting Six million years ago the Mediterranean dried up. Ninety million years ago there were alligators in the Arctic. Three hundred million years ago Northern Europe was a desert and coal formed in Antarctica. “One thing we know for sure,” Laughlin says about these convulsions, “is that people weren’t involved.”

Newsweek, by George F. Will, September 12, 2010

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The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale — INES is 20 years Old

Jointly developed by the IAEA and the NEA in 1990, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the international nuclear and radiological event scale helps nuclear and radiation safety authorities and the nuclear industry worldwide to rate (1) nuclear and radiological events and (2) to communicate their safety significance to the general public, the media and the technical community.

INES was initially used to classify events at nuclear power plants only. It was subsequently extended to rate events occurring in any nuclear facility and during the transport of radioactive material, thus also covering events related to the overexposure of workers. Since 2008, INES has been extended to any event associated with the transport, storage and use of radioactive material and radiation sources, from those occurring at nuclear facilities to those associated with industrial use.

More generally, INES has also become a crucial nuclear communications tool. Since its inception, it has been adopted in 69 countries, and an increasing number of countries have expressed their interest in using INES and have designated INES national officers. Over the years, national nuclear safety authorities have made growing use of INES, while the public and the media have become more familiar with the scale and its significance. This is where the true success of INES stands, having helped to foster transparency and to provide a better understanding of nuclear-related events and activities, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency said.

Doc Sez: Just because something happened and was reported, doesn’t make it a big deal. This is a universal truism, but one not accepted by news and fear mongers, and those afflicted with nuclearphobia. Although I’ve not succeeded, I’ve attempted to create a comparable scale for gas, oil and mineral extraction and for releases from chemical and heavily chemistry based production facilities. Any Ideas?

Certainly on a fatality per serious incident basis, respiratory illness caused by routine and accidental releases, and ground water contamination comparisons such a scale might also prove a useful communications tool. I wonder where Beijing and Denver smog, the BP oil Spill, and the enormous toxic waste spill recently reported in Hungry would rank against Chernobyl. Note the headline sucking TMI accident let to no fatalities and to no measurable increases in health effects. You can Google the actual TMI off site health and environmental consequences for your selves.

Nuclear Engineering International, October 22, 2010; and

The International Nuclear Event Scale, Wikipedia,

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In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming

Event Log

  • The floods battered New England, then Nashville, then Arkansas, then Oklahoma — and were followed by a deluge in Pakistan that has upended the lives of 20 million people.
  • RUSSIA Wildfires stoked by the country’s worst heat wave on record have caused clouds of smoke and burned 1.9 million acres.
  • CHICAGO June storms brought high winds and heavy rains, knocking out windows and leaving thousands without electricity.

The summer’s heat waves baked the eastern United States, parts of Africa and eastern Asia, and above all Russia, which lost millions of acres of wheat and thousands of lives in a drought worse than any other in the historical record.

Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes. The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled down to a single word: probably.

“The climate is changing,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.”

He described excessive heat, in particular, as “consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Theory suggests that a world warming up because of those gases will feature heavier rainstorms in summer, bigger snowstorms in winter, more intense droughts in at least some places and more record-breaking heat waves. Scientists and government reports say the statistical evidence shows that much of this is starting to happen.

But the averages do not necessarily make it easier to link specific weather events, like a given flood or hurricane or heat wave, to climate change. Most climate scientists are reluctant to go that far, noting that weather was characterized by remarkable variability long before humans began burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

There are more details and event images in the article.
Even the Russians are paying more attention.

Thermometer measurements show that the earth has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. For this January through July, average temperatures were the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported recently. NOAA scientists think is only the beginning of a trend that most experts believe will worsen substantially.

If the earth were not warming, random variations in the weather should cause about the same number of record-breaking high temperatures and record-breaking low temperatures over a given period. But climatologists have long theorized that in a warming world, the added heat would cause more record highs and fewer record lows.

The recent annual statistics suggest that is exactly what is happening. In the United States these days, about two record highs are being set for every record low. This seems to be telltale evidence that amid all the random variation of weather, the trend is toward a warmer climate.

Climate-change skeptics dispute such statistical arguments, contending that climatologists do not know enough about long-range patterns to draw definitive links between global warming and weather extremes. They cite events like the heat and drought of the 1930s as evidence that extreme weather is nothing new. Those were indeed dire heat waves, contributing to the Dust Bowl, which dislocated millions of Americans and changed the population structure of the United States.

But most researchers trained in climate analysis, while acknowledging that weather data in parts of the world are not as good as they would like, offer evidence to show that weather extremes are getting worse.

Doc Sez: It’s not a question of either whether mankind is the cause, or we’re just in a natural cycle upswing in temperature. The real issue {aka ethical question} is what are we, mankind going to do to protect all of us from the after affects of climate changes and the likelihood of drastic changes to the way we live. — Oh, my choice of pictures… ‘a rose by any other name still has thorns.’

The New York Times, Article by Justin Gillis, August 14, 2010, and links therein

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Recycling Land for Green Energy Ideas and Projects

Lemoore, Calif. — Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation. But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future — making electricity.

Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world’s largest solar energy complexes, to be built on 30,000 acres.

At peak output, the proposed Westlands Solar Park would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants.

Unlike some renewable energy projects blocked by objections that they would despoil the landscape, this one has the support of environmentalists. Check it out, for a change this is not a ‘wet’ dream.

The first phase of the project would consist of 9,000 acres leased from farmers. When covered in solar panels, that acreage would generate 600 to 1,000 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt is enough to power a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The New York Times, by Todd Woody Published: August 10, 2010

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Clear-Cutting {forests} Has a High Cost

For people living in poverty in the Amazon, cutting down the rain forest often appears to be the only way to thrive economically—first by selling the lumber, later by farming and ranching on the land. A study published in Science in June indicates otherwise. Despite gaining some temporary benefits, communities that clear-cut their forests end up no better off than those who do not.

Ana Rodrigues of the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in France and her colleagues found that Amazonian towns in the midst of a deforestation binge initially see higher life expectancies, literacy rates, and incomes. But once the local forest is gone, income from timber typically dries up, the researchers believe; many farms and cattle ranches are abandoned after a few years because the nutrient-poor soil rapidly becomes depleted.

“The current development strategy results in a lose-lose-lose situation,” Rodrigues says. It destroys the rain forest habitat, fails to alleviate poverty, and contributes to global warming by eliminating trees that would absorb and store carbon dioxide. “The challenge now is to create a development path that is win-win-win.” One possibility, Rodrigues suggests, could be to create a provision in the next international climate-change treaty requiring wealthy countries with high carbon emissions to pay Brazilians for the environmental benefits of keeping their forests standing.

Bottom Line — Selling the lumber gets money in the short term but is a “lose-lose-lose” in the long term.

Discover Magazine, by Eliza Strickland, January 25, 2010

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Pedego® Electric Bikes and SiGNa Chemistry Demonstrate a High Density Power Solution for Electric Bicycles Electric bicycle gets 60-mile range with a portable hydrogen fuel cell

LAS VEGAS, NV: September 23, 2010 – Pedego®, Electric Bikes and SiGNa Chemistry have developed an ultra-high-performance range extender for electric bicycles.  The announced battery-fuel cell hybrid system is compatible with all existing Pedego bicycles and batteries.  For every 1.5 lbs. of weight a rider carries, an additional 700 watt-hours of energy is available (compared to ~350 watt-hours for an ultra-high performance lithium-polymer battery at a weight of 7 lbs.).

Compared to advanced Li-ion batteries, which have an energy density of about 65 Watt-hours per kilogram, SiGNa’s cartridges have an energy density of more than 1,000 Watt-hours per kilogram. The hydrogen cartridge produces up to 200 Watts of continuous power, and excess energy is stored in a Li-ion battery for climbing hills and energy-intensive acceleration.

The new hybrid system utilizes the battery for peak conditions such as acceleration and hill climbing, while the fuel cell to extend the operating range of a Pedego bicycle by over 40 miles for each additional cartridge.

Riders can carry additional cartridges, which are real-time hot swappable.  A key innovation is the use of sodium silicide to liberate hydrogen from water as needed by the hybrid fuel cell. The hydrogen system is safe, as the hydrogen is produced at just 50% of the pressure in a soda can. The system’s only emission is water vapor, and sodium silicate, an environmentally safe byproduct of sodium silicide, which is fully contained in the cartridge.

PhysOrg News, October 6, 2010

By Charlie Sorrel October 4, 2010, Wired,

Pedego Electric Bicycles —

SiGNa Chemistry —

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits: — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that the material I work with.

In addition, when duplicating materials that I cite, I do not fill the material with quotation makes, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another source.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

In Closing

I’ll be posting articles for your comfort and anger in the next few months. I never respond to flaming, but will take time to provide evidence in the form of both primary technical and secondary {magazine articles} references for those who ask. However, most of you can reach out and Google such information for your selves.

I compulsively again share Dr. Isaac Asimov thoughts on evidence.

Paraphrasing: The Paradigm I’ve Live By, a quote from Dr. Isaac Asimov writer, thinker and scientist. 

  • “I believe in evidence.
  • I believe in observation, in measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers.
  • I’ll believe any thing, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

I would also add Albert Einstein’s comment Scientific-Technical “insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Emphasis Added – The same holds true for half-truths and fear mongering by those with vested interests and/or undocumented and presently un-documentable beliefs.

Readers Please Note — Many of the technologies I share still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable — and if you Google them in detail, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many studies that are skeptical.

A reminder, conditions, both technical and geopolitical continuously change – So if you’ve made up your mind about either the best way to go, or about its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper!

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein.

I seem to have a thing for Albert Einstein this month, coming soon Feynman and Hawking my other heros.

Harry, aka doc_Babad


Previous Greening Columns

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

The number of educated global warming skeptics continues to drop as Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish academic and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” finally abandoned his anti-global warming position. The mounting evidence made it clear to Lomborg that global warming is a very real and immediate threat to our planet and it must be addressed now. To read more about Lomborg’s change of heart, click here.

FUD – an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. A practice used to generate fear in people so they will demand change or reject valid information.

Is global warming for real, or is it a fabrication? Most scientists and climatologists around the world state that global warming is a problem that we and our children must address. The biggest groups of people that disagree with global warming seem to rely on pseudo science, religious convictions, or political positions.

Chris Monckton

Dr. John Abraham

A noted global warming skeptic named Christopher Monckton from the UK gave a presentation at Bethel College and stated that global warming is not an issue. The problem: Monckton lacks scientific background and credentials to act as a valid analyst of this topic. Dr. John Abraham, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, viewed Monckton’s slides and pointed out how each point either relied on old or incorrectly-interpreted data, or used non-facts to promote Monckton’s views. Click here to watch Dr. Abraham’s excellent analysis and dissection of Monckton’s attempts to dismiss global warming using pseudo science and unverifiable quotes. Monckton’s response was an unprovoked and unwarranted attack on Dr. Abraham and the University of St. Thomas.

I’ve discussed this topic with friends and colleagues for the past 4 years and have seen people rely on political and religious positions to justify their disbelief in global warming. One colleague tried to use half truths as a reason to doubt science and said “he only believes in the law of gravity.”  I sadly told him there is no law of gravity, which he did not believe. A friend told me he didn’t believe in global warming because God wouldn’t allow us to destroy ourselves. I wondered then (and now) how much damage 3000+ nuclear weapons in US and Russian arsenals could do to our planet… I’m guessing it wouldn’t take that many to destroy the planet and they do exist, so what does that prove to this perspective? Both cases show that some people have made up their minds about something and will look for anything to validate that position – you can’t discuss something with someone that refuses to be open-minded, so don’t bother.

Science attempts to find answers, whether or not those answers agree or disagree with current or previous political and religious opinions. When people use pseudo science, rumors, outright lies, or misstate the truth to bolster their opinion, then you have to question their ethics. I believe that trying to hide what you are or want or promote means you have doubts people will believe you if you are honest. Why? I believe that scientists are people, but they are held accountable to their peers who review their works. Good and ethical scientists try to find answers and embrace the truth, but scientists are human and can be wrong. Science is based on asking questions and trying to find the truth, not twisting facts to fit their political and religious viewpoints.

I applaud Dr.Abraham, an expert with credentials to back his positions, for taking the time to put together a presentation that shows the inconvenient facts, and hope other scientists continue to stand up for the truth.

Just my two cents…


JULY 30, 2010 –  A Followup

Another conspiracy? Please! Since Dr. Abraham’s presentation that refutes Chris Monckton’s position on climate change, Monckton has used mail and interviews to lash out at Dr. Abraham, who refuses to be pulled into a series of personal attacks. Dr. Abraham has stated the scientific reasons why Monckton’s presentation is wrong, and Monckton responded by letters to the University of St. Thomas demanding that they punish Dr. Abraham. Bravo to Dr. Abraham for refusing to let the facts be overridden by Monckton’s non-scientific outlandish claims, and bravo to the university of St. Thomas for supporting their professor and for refusing to be bullied into placating a non-expert. For someone that bandies about the word ‘libel’ so often, Monckton should consider his own comments about Dr.Abraham, the University of St. Thomas, and the university President.

For more information, click here.