Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ignoring NASA

Boy howdy! Now that windmill's gonna' turn! [image]

When the Dust Finally Clears

Even the pundits, preachers, billionaires and quacks all fall silent...

It's usually best to keep one's list of "inevitable things" as short as possible -- at least short enough to drop it somewhere, unnoticed, amid a crowd of passers by and claim that it belonged to someone else. However, buried somewhere below all the screaming, mayhem, out right lies and breathless hyperbole of the climate change deniers we find the unnervingly mysterious gleam of a long neglected and frantically avoided "lamp of truth." 
Diogenes and his dogs. [image]
Not too dissimilar to the frustration of ancient Diogenes after he had set out with his lantern to find "an honest man," any modern soul, finding himself perplexed by all the contradictory narratives bounding about, might consider simply ignoring the scientific "prophesy" for lack of any more responsible choices of action to the problem.
When someone utters the phrase, "climate change," far more than half of those within hearing distance immediately change the subject and turn away. Of these one group is simply Stoic, responding with an unsettling willingness to "simply tough our way through it." One group is too hopelessly buried by desperate, generational poverty to even imagine that any relief can be found without engaging resources beyond imagining. One group is exhausted after having been literally battered by every "wanna be" scientist with the "latest facts" and suspicious motivation -- all soiled to various degrees. Yet another group is lost in the dim, frightening, confused world of the uneducated, uninformed and uninterested.
None of these dilemmas prevails on individuals in our world by coincidence.
Well, for those visitors here with an appetite to "stay clear of the fray," sorry. Unless you have a very brave, adventurous heart along with a well stocked space ship outfitted for a very long stay, you will be joining the rest of us as we step bravely "off this plank." We are comfortably seated on this train, and we will be going where the tracks go. None of the opportunities to "get off" are any less portentous or more palatable than the prospect of making the entire trip.
There will be no urban "park and ride" stops on the route.
The government is paralyzed -- nothing new after years of paralysis, and the electorate is baffled by the relentless onset of all the contradictions, louder and louder, becoming more vehement with each passing hour.
It's NASA's word, and even it may be too comforting.

It's never been a good idea to ignore NASA. We pay an enormous pile of tax money into the Agency every year with the reasonable expectation that we will receive a respectable amount of science in return, that is, science based on observation, research and plenty of the confidence that we can only get from good old "scientific method," objectively empirical conclusions. Importantly, we expect NASA, although it is a creature funded by politicians, to deliver the "straight scoop" regardless of the public opinion reception such a message might elicit.

The "new" research angle added to create this report was an analysis of "ground moisture." The data set driving these conclusions has become available thanks to the humans' advances in satellite observations of large land masses.

Let's sample a few excerpts from the NASA study. [Read the entire report  here -]

NASA Study Finds Carbon Emissions Could Dramatically Increase Risk of U.S. Megadroughts

February 12, 2015
RELEASE 15-020

"Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less," said Ben Cook, climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City, and lead author of the study. "What these results are saying is we're going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years."

According to Cook, the current likelihood of a megadrought, a drought lasting more than three decades, is 12 percent. If greenhouse gas emissions stop increasing in the mid-21st century, Cook and his colleagues project the likelihood of megadrought to reach more than 60 percent.However, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in the Southwest and Central Plains between the years 2050 and 2099.

The scientists analyzed a drought severity index and two soil moisture data sets from 17 climate models that were run for both emissions scenarios. The high emissions scenario projects the equivalent of an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 1,370 parts per million (ppm) by 2100, while the moderate emissions scenario projects the equivalent of 650 ppm by 2100. Currently, the atmosphere contains 400 ppm of CO2.

In the Southwest, climate change would likely cause reduced rainfall and increased temperatures that will evaporate more water from the soil. In the Central Plains, drying would largely be caused by the same temperature-driven increase in evaporation.


Until this study, much of the previous research included analysis of only one drought indicator and results from fewer climate models, Cook said, making this a more robust drought projection than any previously published.

"What I think really stands out in the paper is the consistency between different metrics of soil moisture and the findings across all the different climate models," said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. "It is rare to see all signs pointing so unwaveringly toward the same result, in this case a highly elevated risk of future megadroughts in the United States."

This study also is the first to compare future drought projections directly to drought records from the last 1,000 years.

Additional Coverage in the Media

For further reading, MeanMesa has collected a couple of less scientific reports on the NASA study. Excerpts of these are presented here with links to the original articles.

A ‘megadrought’ will grip U.S. in the coming decades, NASA researchers say

February 12
[Excerpted. Read the entire article here - Washington Post]

The long and severe drought in the U.S. Southwest pales in comparison with what’s coming: a “megadrought” that will grip that region and the central Plains later this century and probably stay there for decades, a new study says.

Thirty-five years from now, if the current pace of climate change continues unabated, those areas of the country will experience a weather shift that will linger for as long as three decades, according to the study, released Thursday.

Researchers from NASA and Cornell and Columbia universities warned of major water shortages and conditions that dry out vegetation, which can lead to monster wildfires in southern Arizona and parts of California.

“We really need to start thinking in longer-term horizons about how we’re going to manage it,” said Toby R. Ault, an assistant professor in the department of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell, one of the co-authors. “This is a slow-moving natural hazard that humans are used to dealing with and used to managing.”

Megadroughts are sustained periods of sparse precipitation and significant loss of soil moisture that span generations, about 10 times as long as a normal three-year drought.


Tucson had less than 80 percent of its normal rainfall for long stretches in the 1990s. If that were to last for two decades, “that’s a megadrought,” Ault said.

Based on climate models the researchers used for the study, there is an 80 percent chance that such an extended drought will strike between 2050 and 2099, unless world governments act aggressively to mitigate impacts from climate change, the researchers said.

North America’s last megadroughts happened in medieval times, during the 12th and 13th centuries. They were caused by natural changes in weather that give megadroughts a 10 percent chance of forming at any time.

But climate change driven by human activity dramatically increases those chances. “With climate change, the likelihood of a megadrought goes up considerably,” Ault said.

The other writers for the study were its lead author, Benjamin I. Cook, a research scientist for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and co-author Jason E. Smerdon, a research professor at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.The report was published Thursday in the journal Science Advances.

Risk of American 'megadroughts' for decades, NASA warns

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

Sat February 14, 2015

[Links remain enabled. Excerpted. Read the original article here - CNN]

(CNN)There is no precedent in contemporary weather records for the kinds of droughts the country's West will face, if greenhouse gas emissions stay on course, a NASA study said.

No precedent even in the past 1,000 years.

The feared droughts would cover most of the western half of the United States -- the Central Plains and the Southwest.

Those regions have suffered severe drought in recent years. But it doesn't compare in the slightest to the 'megadroughts' likely to hit them before the century is over due to global warming.

Even if emissions drop moderately, droughts in those regions will get much worse than they are now, NASA said.These will be epochal, worthy of a chapter in Earth's natural history.

The space agency's study conjures visions of the sun scorching cracked earth that is baked dry of moisture for feet below the surface, across vast landscapes, for decades. Great lake reservoirs could dwindle to ponds, leaving cities to ration water to residents who haven't fled east.

"Our projections for what we are seeing is that, with climate change, many of these types of droughts will likely last for 20, 30, even 40 years," said NASA climate scientist Ben Cook.


Much, much worse

If NASA's worst case scenario plays out, what's to come could be worse.

Its computations are based on greenhouse gas emissions continuing on their current course. And they produce an 80% chance of at least one drought that could last for decades.

One "even exceeding the duration of the long term intense 'megadroughts' that characterized the really arid time period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly," Cook said.

That was a period of heightened global temperatures that lasted from about 1100 to 1300 -- when those Ancestral Pueblos dispersed. Global average temperatures are already higher now than they were then, the study said.

Massive data calculation

The NASA team's study was very data heavy.

It examined past wet and dry periods using tree rings going back 1,000 years and compared them with soil moisture from 17 climate models, NASA said in the study published in Science Advances.

Scientists used super computers to calculate the models forward along the lines of human induced global warming scenarios. The models all showed a much drier planet.

Climate Change Deniers - Also Busy

This article appeared on a site apparently entirely dedicated to climate change denying. MeanMesa is quite comfortable "throwing" the degrees which back up what is presented on this little blog into the following analysis: "nonsense."

Scientist mocks NASA megadrought prediction
[Read the original article here - CLIMATE DEPOT]

The result is a statistical house of cards, models stacked on top of models none rooted in reality. Statisticians back up Lewis' objections. Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University and Professor Roman Mureika of the University of New Brunswick, now retired, both regard the statistical methods in Marotzke’s paper as fatally flawed. Hughes in particular had some pithy comments about the Marotzke and Forster paper:

The statistical methods used in the paper are so bad as to merit use in a class on how not to do applied statistics.

All this paper demonstrates is that climate scientists should take some basic courses in statistics and Nature should get some competent referees.

Lewis' final conclusion on the Marotzke and Forster paper that supposedly exonerated the wonky climate models: “The paper is methodologically unsound and provides spurious results. No useful, valid inferences can be drawn from it. I believe that the authors should withdraw the paper.” That's science speak for “your paper is a load of bollocks.”

This great 14 year "sciency" chart proves/disproves EVERYTHING!
What this means is that the scary megadrought paper is built on the same crappy models that have been embarrassing climate scientists for the past three decades. Furthermore, a new model built on top of old inaccurate models can not help but be inaccurate itself. Quite simply, new science built on bad science is just more bad science. The new US Congress is looking for places to trim the budget, might we suggest a good place to start would be defunding NASA's GISS organization.

It's hard for MeanMesa to even imagine the size of the monthly checks rolling into CLIMATE DEPOT for this insightful climate change denial work, but everybody has to make a living. Who can avoid the "poetic justice" which unavoidably ensues while considering what corporate sponsors believe this to be a "good, persuasive PR investment?" [We secretly hope that the list includes EXXON...the embarrassment couldn't land on a more deserving corporation.]

Real ones -- not CLIMATE DEPOT type

This is an interesting post to publish in the midst of the extreme climate anomalies thrashing their way through the country at the moment. The previously stable jet stream route appears to have permanently adopted a new course in the last few years. The troubling incursions of the "Arctic Express" may seem to be mere frigid inconveniences, but MeanMesa suspects that these unpleasant visitors are slamming the national economy by adding billions of dollars to heating costs while all the natural gas being burned to keep warm is flooding the planet's atmosphere with an "extra" dose of green house gas.

Far too many Americans are expecting climate change to arrive like flipping a light switch. Unhappily, many of these same folks are expected to hear about such an "arrival" on the corporate media's "news" coverage, too. Quite to the contrary, what we are getting today is very reasonable, very credible evidence that plenty which is much worse is waiting for us "just around the geo-planetary corner."

MeanMesa published a comprehensive posting about this in 2008. Managing Global Warming Solutions

This paper spells out in some detail what the world needs to be doing at this very moment. If everyone had climbed on board when it was first posted in 2008, we would currently only be twenty or thirty years late leaving the starting gate. Further, although a myriad of what may seem to be quite serious counter measures have been put in place, when compared to the massive scope of the project, all of them amount to essentially nothing.

Forward thinking real estate managers should already begin planning for property in the "brown area" on NASA's map to become basically worthless in fifty years. Young couples with the predictable dreams of owning a home need to start looking for communities which are likely to still have running water in 2060. National politicians should be doing what they can to become comfortable with a GDP around half of what it is now.

On a positive note, national security may not be lethally impacted because either drought or chaos or both will be consuming most of the rest of the planet, too, offering a "convenient distraction" to the current wide spread "hobby" of attacking the advanced countries. All food surpluses -- internationally -- will cease around 2060. After that, the historic human disasters -- plague, famine, military violence, drought -- will be handled like the forest wild fires which are simply allowed to burn themselves out because they cannot be extinguished or because they are located somewhere not justifying the expense of fighting them.

As for the climate deniers, they may be able to disrupt responsive action for a while longer, but in the end history will render them a bizarre, momentary curiosity and nothing more. As for the rest of us, MeanMesa invites everyone to spend just a minute or two with this short list.

1. The NASA report is not a movie.

2. The NASA report is not about something that only might happen.

3. The NASA report is not about something approaching in the distant future.

4. The NASA report can not be dismissed as reckless or un-credentialed hyperbole.

We're on the train. 
We are going to go to where the tracks go.

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