Skeptical Science has a Roundup!

Some days it's hard to get started when writing a post.

Long ago and far away, in a galaxy much like ours... 

Wait, that's not right.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Yeah, forget that...

Let's try it this way:

Somewhere back around 2010 I started noticing twitter messages from a guy named John Cook in Australia. His web site was great!

Once I managed to sort out that John was providing real, factual information instead of the pseudo-scientific crap being handed out at other blogs with names like "Real Science", or "Climate Depot" it was like an oasis in the desert of fact free claims. Much like an oasis, the problem was finding it to start with.

Skeptical Science
"'Real Science"

And it wasn't that the others were hard to identify as charlatans. No, if you knew anything at all about science and how the scientific methods worked it was evident that Morano, "Goddard", and Watts were great source material for Onion Network News (The Onion). Confusing "Skeptical Science" with "Real Science" would be like confusing Neil de Grasse Tyson for Sarah Silverman.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 29:  Astrophysicist Neil d...
Sarah Silverman

John founded the site, and still pays for it out of his pocket, although donations are usually appreciated. Here's the short bio from his site.

John is the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He originally studied physics at the University of Queensland. After graduating, he majored in solar physics in his post-grad honours year. In 2011, he co-authored the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand with Haydn Washington.

There are lots of reasons why I'm excited by this roundup but I'm wasting column inches babbling about it. Check out the embedded list below, and become better informed.

Tweeting Donal.

2012 SkS Weekly News Round-Up #1 (via Skeptical Science)
Posted on 19 September 2012 by John Hartz Welcome to the inagural edition of the SkS Weekly News Round-Up. It is a spin-off from the SkS Weekly Digest. Enjoy!  Note: Given the breadth of issues covered in the articles cited, the comment thread to this post is open ended. All comments posted must…


Taxes Taxes Taxes.... it's enough to give you a headache.

Could the big argument over the top 1% and their taxes be another false flag operation?

 Maybe it's to keep us from paying attention to the other group not paying taxes?

 Take a look at this and see what you think.

How Corporations Get Out of Paying Taxes
Via: OnlineMBA.com
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Fox's Overflowing Data

If I told the average reader of this blog that Fox News Channel, or more properly Rupert Murdoch's Fixed Noise Channel, has recently been "Foxifying"... uh, falsifying the numbers and charts in the Presidential races there would be little surprise.

The fine folk at Flowing Data have been staying on top of all this for us and I thought I'd share some of their findings.

It turns out that local affiliates were having a tough time keeping it all straight. Way back in 2009 there was a pretty interesting example of math as done the Murdoch way when Fox Chicago provided us with this pie chart.

Yup, 63 plus 60 plus 70 adds up to 100. Right?

It's tough keeping all those foreign names straight you know, like Murdoch, Lonergan, O'Neil, Obama, Usama... so a while back, Fox 40, a local Fox News Network affiliate provided us with this charming image:

Since the guys in the back spend all day saying bad things about this "Obama" person, I suppose their fingers just automatically typed "Obama" when it should have been "Usama". You know how it is when you spend all day spinning the news, it gets repetitive, almost mindless.


After a feat like that, screwing up other things when referring to a sitting President are easily done. For example, we all know that this Obama bin Laden guy can't get anything right, especially since he's dead. And the chart below proves it!

In December 2011 the jobs data indicated a drop. Now it wasn't a big drop, and these statistics are always subject to differences in opinion. Rupert's troops took matters into their own hands and published this image on their channel:

Having problems spotting the discrepancy? That's OK, it seems as if the Fox anchors and the on air crew didn't see it either or they surely would have corrected it immediately. Right? I mean the November 8.6% number being higher than the 8.8% number in March is all that Obama guy's fault.

Here's how the chart should have looked:

Odd that the shapes don't match. Well, vaguely.

And then there's the really old school tricks. I remember Ross Perot pulling chart magic like this during his presidential bid. The man was sitting there doing Power Point presentations that absolutely lied in nearly every respect. He used this technique and I suppose the Fox folk figured it would work again.

Nothing wrong with that chart, right? Well, right, so long as you want to make a difference look seven times larger than it is. I guess they gave the 35% a full one percent on the chart instead of just leaving it off completely. The idea of bar or column charts is to look at the whole figure for comparison, not just the change.

Flowing Data kindly provided the correct column chart so that you can easily see what the difference implies. Have a look.



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Business Leaders Urge Congress to Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credit — Ceres

Today, 19 companies, including major consumer brands and several Fortune 500 firms, wrote to Congressional leaders encouraging them to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a key provision supporting renewable energy.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable power generated and, if lawmakers fail to act, is set to expire in 2012. Originally signed into law by George H.W. Bush, the tax credit has helped to strengthen energy diversity, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and keep electricity costs low for homes and businesses across the country.

“For consumers of wind electricity, the economic benefits of the PTC are tremendous. The PTC has enabled the industry to slash wind energy costs – 90% since 1980 – a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy,” the companies wrote in their letter. “Extending the PTC lowers prices for all consumers, keeps America competitive in a global marketplace and creates homegrown American jobs.”

The signatories of the letter demonstrate how a broad cross-section of U.S. companies are increasingly relying on inexpensive and abundant American wind energy to power their businesses. The signers include:  Akamai Technologies; Annie’s, Inc.; Aspen Skiing Company; Ben & Jerry’s; Clif Bar; Johnson & Johnson; Jones Lang LaSalle; Levi Strauss & Co; New Belgium Brewing; The North Face; Pitney Bowes; the Portland Trail Blazers; Seventh Generation; Sprint; Starbucks; Stonyfield Farm; Symantec; Timberland; and Yahoo!. Many of these firms are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project of Ceres.

Sprint, a national top 50 green power purchaser, highlighted the PTC’s importance to meeting its renewable energy goals:

“Sprint has committed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increase its use of renewable energy sources for electricity,” said Amy Hargroves, manager, corporate social responsibility at Sprint. “That’s why we have been actively working to meet our goal to secure 10 percent of our total electricity through renewable energy sources by 2017.  We support the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind because it has enabled companies like Sprint to make the shift to abundant, clean, and homegrown wind energy.”

Members of BICEP like New Belgium Brewing also expressed strong support for the PTC:

“New Belgium Brewing has made investing in renewable power a strategic priority because it's the right thing to do for the environment, for our business, and for clean energy employment,” said Jenn Vervier, director, strategic development and sustainability at New Belgium Brewing. “Over the past several years, we've seen clean energy job growth in our home state of Colorado and a vision for building a more resilient power grid by integrating renewables. Extending the Production Tax Credit will help to ensure that those positive trends continue across the nation.”

“The Production Tax Credit helps every business that purchases renewable power: It’s just that simple,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which coordinates BICEP. “Letting the PTC expire now would increase energy costs for homes and businesses at exactly the wrong time. For Congress, the message from business leaders is clear: Extend the PTC and help us build the economy.”

Navigant Consulting estimates that extending the PTC for four additional years would result in 95,000 wind-supported jobs and $16.3 billion in investment by 2016. However, failing to immediately extend the PTC would result in the loss of more than 37,000 American jobs and $10 billion in investment in 2013.

Bolstered by the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35% of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past five years, and now supplies 20% of electricity in states like Iowa and South Dakota. From 2004 through 2011, non-hydroelectric renewable energy more than doubled and now accounts for nearly 5% of electricity generation in the U.S.


BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres. www.ceres.org/bicep

Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership.  Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $10 trillion.

Our Congress is choking on 2.2 cents per kW-hr but has no problem with much larger breaks for the coal companies...


What You Can Do About Global Warming | Union of Concerned Scientists

What You Can Do about Global Warming

Because emissions of heat-trapping gases in the United States are so high and continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, Americans have a special responsibility and opportunity to reduce global warming. Here are some ways you can help:

Take Personal Action

Reduce your personal contribution to global warming and set an example for others by using less gasoline, natural gas, oil, and electricity (especially electricity generated from coal-fired power plants) in your daily life. Here are three suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of gas you burn by choosing a fuel-efficient car or other transportation that uses less (or no) fossil fuel per person, such as trains, subways, and buses; car pools; walking; and biking.  
  • Buy efficient appliances that use less electricity. Look for the Energy Star, awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Reduce every day electrical use. Develop a plan to reduce daily electricity use around your home. Ask each member of your household to take responsibility for a different electricity-saving action, such as turning off lights when leaving the room, unplugging appliances when they are not in use, using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and only running dishwashers or washing machines with full loads.

Our 2012 book, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, offers a wealth of science-based advice on how to reduce your global warming impact by "sweating the right stuff." It also inspires and challenges you to become a low-carbon leader in your community—our Cooler Smarter Trivia Night Kit provides you with a fun and engaging way to get started.

Encourage Community Action

Work within your community to promote energy efficiency and use of clean energy. Here are some good places to start:

  • Make it easier for community members to use energy-efficient transportation. For example, promote community carpooling plans and the construction of bike lanes, and urge local businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to install bike racks.
  • Encourage the use of clean, renewable energy in publicly funded projects. For example, suggest that new construction or significant remodeling projects incorporate passive-solar techniques.
  • Work with your local electric utilities. Encourage them to promote energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable energy sources.

Check the UCS Activist Resource Center for tips on working with policy makers and the media.

Influence U.S. Action

The United States needs to play a leadership role in addressing global warming, and you can help make this happen.

  • Write to your local newspaper about the significance of global warming and the need for U.S. leadership, or respond to stories and letters that dismiss global warming.
  • Write or call President Obama to let him know you expect him to be an international leader on this issue.
  • Contact your U.S. representatives and senators to encourage them to support actions that reduce the emissions of heat-trapping gases.
  • Ask your governor, state legislators, and public utility regulators to promote energy efficiency, nonpolluting transportation alternatives, and the development of clean, renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.

Join Others Who Take a Stand

Help our voices be heard. Join with others who are working to reduce global warming. 

  • If you are a scientist, economist, engineer, or health professional, join our UCS Science Network to influence fast-breaking media and policy developments on global warming issues.

See what our activists have been doing recently and what they've helped us accomplish.


Last Revised: 01/28/11

A great resource, what YOU can do about global warming... each of us can take action.


Our Ridiculously Wasteful Food System, And What To Do About it | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation

Your mother may have told you not to waste food--but most of us don’t listen. Up to 40% of food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. That’s a massive waste of calories, but also of freshwater, energy, pesticides and manpower that went into production, distribution, and sales. Food accounts for 10% of energy use, and 25% of the methane emitted in landfills. Food waste is contributing to climate change, too.

This all comes from a new report by Dana Gunders, at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report notes how strange it is that we don’t talk more about food waste, given its importance. The last U.S. Department of Agriculture study on the subject was back in the 1990s. But it concedes a few realities. Food makes up a relatively small percentage of household budgets for most people. Also, growers, distributors, and retailers have obvious incentives to sell more food, and to decry any discussion of waste as some kind of attack on the free market.

Fewer items on the shelves led to less waste, and more customer satisfaction.

The report tracks each phase of the food system--farming, packing, processing, distribution, retail, food service, household, and disposal--analyzing the inefficiencies at each stage, and offering ideas for improvements. For example, the Stop and Shop retail chain saved an estimated $100 million a year by ending its “pile ‘em high, watch ‘em fly” philosophy of food display. It found that fewer items on the shelves led to less waste, less need for intervention by store assistants, and more customer satisfaction.

Gunders also suggests looking to Europe, which has made cutting food waste a priority at European Union and national level. The U.K.'s “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign, which has received backing from 53 retailers and food brands, has cut waste by 18% in five years.

Finally, the report makes four recommendations:

  1. The government should conduct a "a comprehensive study for food losses in our food system," and "clarify the meaning of date labels on food so that consumers stop throwing out items due to misinterpretation." A lot of food gets thrown away because of over-cautious labeling.

  2. State and local governments should set their own targets, "implementing food waste prevention campaigns in their jurisdictions as well as their own operations."
  3. Businesses should try to understand "the extent and opportunity of their own waste streams and adopting best practices," as in the case of Stop and Shop.

  4. And that we all can help reduce waste "by learning when food goes bad, buying imperfect produce, and storing and cooking food with an eye to reducing waste."

Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?

Gamma-Ray Flashes | Image of the Week, Scientific American Blog Network

Image of the Week #59, September 10th, 2012:

From: The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Gamma-Ray Flashes by Jen Christiansen at @ScientificAmerican .

Source: Joseph R. Dwyer, for Thunderclouds Make Gamma Rays—and Shoot Out Antimatter, Too by Joseph R. Dwyer and David M. Smith

How many times have you grabbed a pencil and paper when trying to explain something to someone? Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that clear thinking goes hand in hand with clear graphics, and vice versa. This sketch by Scientific American author Joseph R. Dwyer accompanied his written explanation of the phenomenon known as gamma-ray flashes (August 2012 print issue (“Deadly Rays from Clouds” by By Joseph R. Dwyer and David M. Smith). It’s a great example of clear thinking in a visual form — and proof that you don’t need to be a professional illustrator to convey ideas clearly on paper. See the final version, rendered by illustrator Brian Despain, at Jen Christiansen’s post titled The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Gamma-Ray Flashes.

One of Bora's always interesting posts... have a look and take a look at the associated article mentioned at the bottom of this one!

CoCoRaHS - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network


Think it seems drier than you remember, well Join in here, help measure what's going on. You might be surprised.

World Water Monitoring Challenge : Test. Share. Protect.


In case you were wondering, if you don't know where you're at, then it's hard to figure out where to go next.

Monitoring the world around us tells us where we're at, where we're being dragged, and creates the power to do something about our fate.

Attempting a Transformation

Presently my activities drag my attention all over the Internet. I am constantly exposed to "ideas" about what to do, how to respond to the changes in our global climate.

We know it's Global, and some things will require unified global action. What we frequently don't understand is that we as individual are the drivers of much of that action.

From politics to choices of facial tissue our daily decisions impact EVERYTHING.

So, as I run across ideas about what to do in response to Global Weirding, I'll post them here. I'll vet the ideas as best as I'm able. If I get enough, this might turn into a mini-blog from it's current microblog state, who knows.

Good Luck to All of Us, we're gonna need it! 

Tweeting Donal @tweetingdonal


It's not your imagination, it really is getting hotter

I really am trying to learn to be short and direct... and it's very difficult for me.

Here goes:

Yes, it really is getting hotter.

The Sun HPC guys who go by the YouTube name overheardinpdx posted this great video from NASA data. You can go onto YouTube and watch their other fine videos, or you can go directly to the related NASA site for more info.

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