Road Trip 2: Mobile to Boulder

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 4:22 AM GMT on August 08, 2007

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From the Gulf, we wandered across Alabama to Selma, then a night in Memphis, Ponca City, and finally back to Boulder. We passed through an arch of lightening and thunderstorms in the Colorado Plains and, once through, saw the most brilliant and complete rainbow ever. A couple of pictures in "My Recent Photos."

Still in the spirit of the road trip --- if there is climate discussion on the road it is how wet it has been in Texas and Kansas, and how dry it is in northern Alabama and Tennessee. With all of the discussion of how climate change will impact severe weather and flood and drought cycles, some are seeing this as another part of the accumulation of evidence. Others, of course, point to the historical variability and say that we have seen such extremes before and, hence attribution to climate change is unjustified.

As was commented in the last blog, this discussion has moved beyond science and out into the public. People will start to re-frame the discussion. Knowledge and belief will become more entwined. For the sake of completeness and discussion here is the rainfall anomaly chart.
Precipitation anomaly


Figure 1: Rainfall anomaly from National Climate Data Center.

What is perhaps of more interest from a climate change point of view is the continued drought in the western third of the nation. There has been a lot of pretty good research that shows that this drought in combination with warmer temperatures is having impacts on eco-systems and wildfires beyond any ever realized before. Here's an aging link to pinyon pine die off.

As you drive across the agricultural parts of the country there is an increasing discussion of ethanol. A lot of corn has been planted. The discussion is beginning to move to the rationality of corn-based ethanol. There is some potential of realizing some energy independence, but (in my opinion) this is largely symbolic. From a climate point of view ethanol production does not make a lot of sense, especially if the extra stress on water is considered. What is most interesting to me about the discussion on the agricultural radio stations is the quick impact that the diversion of corn to ethanol is having on the beef industry, the food industry in general (corn syrup), and the link to the increase in milk prices. This is not to mention the impact on, say, supplying food to other nations--something that is important from both a humanitarian and international stability point of view. Then there are the links back to myriad existing policies. The interdependencies are emerging quickly. Perhaps on the opposite side of politics from last blog's link to Rush--here is a link to a article I was surprised to see in the Rolling Stone on ethanol.

So again some thoughts from the road--next time I will ask for local restaurant recommendations. Plus, tell me what to do about the speed trap in Loan Oak, Texas.

r






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29. crucilandia
4:41 PM GMT on August 17, 2007
I strongly aggree with Sullivan
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
28. sullivanweather
3:10 AM GMT on August 17, 2007
It wasn't a mystery at all why I left that part out. It is because it is not relevant to the discussion.

Everyone knows what climate change is and where the term should be used. The problem is that the term 'climate change' has taken on a new face in the light of the global warming controversy. So I decided to post the definition that matters. You asked to cite an authoritative source and I supplemented it, unless you believe that the UNFCCC isn't a real organization.


And would you drop the firearm thing. I made a hypothetical comparison. I wasn't making any accusations about you, or desertdisaster for that matter. However it was you that insinuated that I have 'experience with the other side of the law'. So seriously, leave the personal comments to yourself.

Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
27. DoverDan
12:52 AM GMT on August 17, 2007
sullivanweather-

There's no arguing that so my words aren't a 'claim'. The blog entries speak for themselves.
--Sorry, I'm not seeing it. How about a specific example.

Climate change - from Wikipedia:
-- Mysteriously (or not) you chose to ignore the first few sentences:
"Climate change refers to the variation in the Earth's global climate or in regional climates over time. It describes changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by processes internal to the Earth, external forces (e.g. variations in sunlight intensity) or, more recently, human activities."

Sounds like my definition is right. Climate change means a change in climate; forget the cause.

And finally, I have never owned a firearm, yet alone commited a crime using a firearm so I really do not know why you included that reference. People get killed in armed robberies so I just don't know what to make of your analogy.
26. sullivanweather
12:19 AM GMT on August 17, 2007
DoverDan,

Forget it, man.

Read the blog entries posted by RickyRood over the months since his blog was started. This is a blog geared towards anthropogenic climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the like. There's no arguing that so my words aren't a 'claim'. The blog entries speak for themselves.


Climate change - from Wikipedia:

In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term "climate change" often refers only to changes in modern climate, including the rise in average surface temperature known as global warming. In some cases, the term is also used with a presumption of human causation, as in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC uses "climate variability" for non-human caused variations


As far as your armed robbery response, let's not be a dolt here, I was making a comparison, not sharing "my experience with the other side of the law"
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
25. DoverDan
12:03 AM GMT on August 17, 2007
sullivanweather-
Once again you claim, without offering any evidence to support that claim, that this is "a blog with an angle towards anthropogenic climate change." Sorry if you're a little hard of hearing but I don't buy it. Unless you can convince me that "Climate Change" means anything different than climate change (i.e. cite an authoritative source beyond the current New York PC definition) I say you're blowing smoke. As to "Why else would someone post a comment about all-time record high temperatures"; maybe that someone thinks that this might be evidence (not proof) that things are a-changin'. Finally, I have no experience with armed robbery, so I can't comment on your experience with the other side of the law.
24. sullivanweather
11:12 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
DoverDan,

Oh please. Give me a break. Why else would someone post a comment about all-time record high temperatures in a blog with an angle towards anthropogenic climate change? Let's not lose sight of the fact that this IS a climate change blog for crying out loud.

If you walk into a store and wave a gun in the store clecks face without saying you're robbing them I'm sure it is assumed that you're not waving a gun around for nothing.

As far as my sarcasam with DesertDisaster is concerned we always have these little spats about this subject and it's good to be light on occasion.
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
23. DoverDan
10:14 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
sullivanweather -

First, I'm not real big on political correctness myself; I'll leave that to you New York types. To me, "Climate Change" is just that; a change in the Earth's climate. Could be part of a natural cycle, could be the result of human activity. Probably a combination of the two.

Second, why the sarcasm?

Third, the distortion. Did desertdisaster claim that the record high temperatures in Japan were a result of anthropogenic global warming? No. Did you try to try to make out that desertdisaster was making the claim the record high temperatures in Japan were a result of anthropogenic global warming? Of course. Your claims of innocence here are somewhat disingenuous. Frankly, it seems to be a common tactic amongst the skeptics to try to paint those who believe as extremist who cannot be trusted. I say lets argue the facts and leave innuendo behind. How about it?
22. sullivanweather
9:22 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
DoverDan,

LOL

Climate change is the term GIVEN to human induced global warming. The term for natural change in climate is now climate variability, in case you missed the latest show on climate political correctness.

Second of all, my words about Desertdisaster is nothing more than sarcasam. Both he and I know that, now so do you.

Thirdly, what tenuous position is it that you assume I have? And how am I 'distorting' his comments? I didn't disregard them as false, did I? I simply pointed out that while Japan is off breaking their hot weather records by .1 or .2C Austrailia was breaking their cold weather records by up to a full 4 to 5C. Where's the distortion?
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
21. DoverDan
9:08 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
sullivanweather - Notorious! We talkin' pictures in the post office here? All I have to go by is what I read and I really don't see any evidence of an "ooze with global warming undertones" in desertdisaster's comments. I do, however, see evidence of a knee jerk reaction on your part and an attempt to distort someone's comments to try to substantiate your own tenuous position. By the way, the title I see at the top of this blog is "Climate Change"; where did you come up with the "human induced global warming" part?
20. sullivanweather
8:27 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
Doverdan,

Desertdisaster is a notorious anthropogenic global warming supporter whose posts just ooze with global warming undertones.

Not to mention that this is a blog didicated to climate change via human induced global warming and it just so happens he's posting on a record warm day in Japan.
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
19. DoverDan
8:13 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
sullivanweather - you're the one putting the global warming spin on desertdisaster's post; I don't see any reference to GW in the post itself. I certainly agree that you can't point to any single event and say that it is proof of GW. However, a hundred such aberrant events might make you think twice and thousands of such events might lead to "By George, I think we've got something here." I think some people get so focussed on individual events that they lose sight of the larger picture (ie, it really is getting warm in here).
18. crucilandia
7:49 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
I aggree with sullivan
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
17. sullivanweather
7:46 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
Desertdisaster

What's your point?

Are you trying to prove that global warming exists because some place in Japan broke their all-time record by .1 or .2C??

In June this year some places in Austrailia broke their all-time cold weather records by a full 5C. Does that now mean global warming doesn't exist?

NO! Because it's a single event!
I hate it when people point to one event and say
"See, global warming! I told ya so!"
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
16. desertdisaster
2:09 PM GMT on August 16, 2007
On the other side of the little planet...

Tokyo: Japan sizzled through its hottest day on record Thursday, as a heat wave claimed at least six lives across the country and spurred fears of an electricity shortage.

The mercury hit 40.9 degrees Celsius in the western city of Tajimi on Thursday afternoon, breaking a previous national record of 40.8 degrees Celsius set in 1933, according to the Meteorological Agency.

Temperatures also soared to new highs in parts of Tokyo and across the country, spurring vacationers to take cover indoors at the height of the "bon" summer holidays.

In the Hachioji region of Tokyo, temperatures hit 38.7 degrees Celsius, breaking the previous record of 38.5 degrees Celsius for August.

Six people died overnight in eastern Japan from heatstroke, including a 13-year-old boy who collapsed in the capital after basketball practice, the Yomiuri newspaper reported. Many others were hospitalized.

Tokyo Electrical Power Co. warned of a power shortage as people turned up their air conditioners. The company has been firing up old thermal power stations and buying
electricity from rivals after a strong earthquake ravaged its largest nuclear power reactor, reducing its electricity output by more than 10 per cent.

Elsewhere, rail tracks were bent out of shape in the sun, and firefighters struggled to deal with fire alarms set off erroneously by rising temperatures, according to news reports.

The heat also got the best of sumo wrestler Takamisakari, who smashed into his practice room window as he nearly collapsed following practice on Thursday, reports said.

Meanwhile, scorching temperatures were expected to boost sales of beer and other beverages, as well as electric appliances like air conditioners and fans, as consumers
scrambled to keep cool.

Published: August 16, 2007
15. desertdisaster
1:55 PM GMT on August 15, 2007
Australian scientists have discovered a giant underwater current that is one of the last missing links of a system that connects the world's oceans and helps govern global climate.

The Southern Ocean, which swirls around Antarctica, has been identified in recent years as the main lung of global climate, absorbing a third of all carbon dioxide taken in by the world's oceans.

The newly discovered Tasman Outflow, which sweeps past Tasmania at an average depth of 800-1,000 meters (2,600 to 3,300 feet), is classed as a "supergyre" that links the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic southern hemisphere ocean basins

Recognizing the scales and patterns of these subsurface water masses means they can be incorporated into the powerful models used by scientists to project how climate may change

Melting ice-sheets and glaciers in Antarctica are releasing fresh water, interfering with the formation of dense "bottom water", which sinks 4-5 kilometers to the ocean floor and helps drive the world's ocean circulation system.

A slowdown in the system known as "overturning circulation" would affect the way the ocean, which absorbs 85 percent of atmospheric heat, carries heat around the globe

Full article here: Link
14. crucilandia
1:51 PM GMT on August 14, 2007

It makes 8x less CO2 than gasoline (volume per volume)


because it comes from plants that have just absorbed an equal amount of CO2 Burning it makes CO2

incorrect. The ethanol is a very very small C portion of the mass used to produce it. Ethanol came from the sugars not from the plant mass


Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
13. sxwarren
9:43 AM GMT on August 14, 2007
Ok, carbohydrate.

Consuming enough of it makes one drunk - unless it's "de-natured" as for motor fuel in which case it would make one dead.

Burning it makes CO2.

I understand the argument that, because it comes from plants that have just absorbed an equal amount of CO2, burning it is hypothetically a wash and represents no net increase in CO2 emissions. However, it seems to me that the need is to reduce CO2 drastically, not merely maintain it.
Member Since: October 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 103
12. crucilandia
2:01 PM GMT on August 13, 2007
Ethanol is not a hydrocarbon. formula CH3CH2OH

Hydrocarbon is any organic compound composed only of Carbon and Hydrogen. The simplest is CH4 and goes on to very complex molecules
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
11. LowerCal
8:17 PM GMT on August 12, 2007
Good thinkin'!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9695
10. sxwarren
11:19 AM GMT on August 12, 2007
Pickup trucks, SUVs and vans make up about 40% of the US motor vehicle fleet and account for over 50% of US gasoline consumption.

This (pickup truck-SUV-van) portion of the fleet averages about 15 mpg.

If half of this portion of the fleet were traded in for EXISTING model vehicles that get a mere 30 mpg, US gasoline consumption would be reduced by at least 12%. This is not, as with ethanol, a matter of trading one hydrocarbon for another. This represents a 12% net decrease in hydrocarbon combustion.

I believe that this can be accomplished through a program of consumer tax rebates for trade-in purchases, the cost of which would be less than current ethanol subsidies.

I believe that this is a winning strategy politically for four reasons:
1) it represents a tax break - for consumers (voters)
2) unlike merely raising CAFE standards, it provides an increased revenue stream for automakers with a built-in incentive to produce more high-mileage vehicles
3) tax rebate programs to influence motor vehicle purchase have been done before - by the Bush Admin to promote the purchase of SUVs and light trucks
4) it can provide demonstrable progress toward the goals of reducing US dependence on oil imports and of reducing US CO2 emissions in far less time than any other currently proposed program

Just a thought.
Member Since: October 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 103
9. Geojunkie
1:01 AM GMT on August 12, 2007
Thanks SO much for your blog. I REALLY appreciate it.

As to speed traps - forewarned is fore-armed. Check out: http://www.speedtrap.org/speedtraps/stetlist.asp

8. desertdisaster
2:02 PM GMT on August 10, 2007
The heat is not in vacation ; )

some of the broken records this week includes:

Atlanta, Ga.: 103 degrees; old record: 101 in 1980
Charleston, S.C.: 98 degrees; old record: 96 in 1972
Birminghamm, Ala.: 103 degrees; old record: 102 in 1980
Augusta, S.C.: 106 degrees; old record: 102 in 1878
Athens, Ga.: 105 degrees; old record: 101 in 1980
7. crucilandia
1:37 PM GMT on August 09, 2007
Rick, you are on vacation, forget business.
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
6. hcubed
12:50 PM GMT on August 09, 2007
Not relevant to current blog topic, but...

"August 8, 2007

GISS Has Reranked US Temperature Anomalies

By Roger Pielke Sr

The hard work of of Steve McIntyre (Climate Audit) and Anthony Watts (www.surfacestations.org) has resulted in the identification of a significant error in the assessment of the rankings of what have been the warmest years in the United States as identified by GISS. The current warmest year is 1934. This new information can be read here:


ClimateAudit.org

Climate Science recognizes that this adjustment by GISS is but one of a slew of issues they need to explore, however, it is a clear example of the value of the research that Anthony and Steve are doing."

Also commented on here:

Link
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
5. LowerCal
9:45 PM GMT on August 08, 2007
r, very interesting article you linked on the pinyon pine ecosystem. Really gives one pause to see the magnitude of change that just 4 consecutive years of regional climate extreme produced.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9695
4. mobal
3:07 PM GMT on August 08, 2007
"tell me what to do about the speed trap in Loan Oak, Texas".

Dont Speed :)
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 482 Comments: 5333
3. hcubed
10:52 AM GMT on August 08, 2007
"Posted By: sullivanweather at 11:42 PM CDT on August 07, 2007.

Ricky,

Here's something that we finally agree on.

Ethanol production for fuel consumption is a worthless endeavour for all the reasons you had just listed.

Plus all the tons chemical fertilizers that's going to be used that will eventually flow down the Mississippi and contribute to the ever increasing hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

A severe drought in the corn belt could also seriously affect supplies of ethanol that would make the recent run-up in gasoline prices pale in comparison.

A hurricane could shut down the oil producing facilities in the Gulf for a week or even a few months, but a season long drought would leave those that rely on ethanol for fuel dry until the next seasons harvest."


Absolutely - what would you rather import: food from China or oil from the Mideast...
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
2. CaicosRetiredSailor
4:43 AM GMT on August 08, 2007
Thanks for the update.... Texas speed trap sounds like an oxymoron, based on the speeds I saw folks driving there the one time I drove through....

Thanks to you I have read a lot about "Climate" since first reading your blog.... including all your entries in the cp.org blog. Thanks for the motivation, and I appreciate your comment a couple of blogs back:

If there is one thing that I want to achieve in this blog, it is not just to argue.
To me the split between "believers and skeptics" is old news and in does not feel productive to me.


I would be interested to hear if you have anything more that can be said about:

At WU we are thinking of going from a Climate Change Blog to a whole climate page.
What you would like to see on such a page?


I will work on putting together some comments and ideas.

Enjoy the road trip... Since I live on an island less than 20 miles long, I am envious.

Thanks again
CRS
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
1. sullivanweather
4:42 AM GMT on August 08, 2007
Ricky,

Here's something that we finally agree on.

Ethanol production for fuel consumption is a worthless endeavour for all the reasons you had just listed.

Plus all the tons chemical fertilizers that's going to be used that will eventually flow down the Mississippi and contribute to the ever increasing hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

A severe drought in the corn belt could also seriously affect supplies of ethanol that would make the recent run-up in gasoline prices pale in comparison.

A hurricane could shut down the oil producing facilities in the Gulf for a week or even a few months, but a season long drought would leave those that rely on ethanol for fuel dry until the next seasons harvest.

Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612

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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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