Saturday, February 22, 2014


Fatuous Twaddle

A pretty good writer Timothy Egan, whom I had never heard of before this, gives a tutorial on how not to be persuasive in his prissy little bitch of a article in the NYT here.

Let's start with the basics. CO2, the beneficial trace gas, does very little of the actual 'greenhouse' warming of our atmosphere. H2O does almost all of it. Furthermore, the curve of how increased atmospheric CO2 warms the atmosphere is asymptotic, that is, it flattens out quickly, so that the first doubling of CO2,  from 140 to 280 ppmv, increases temperature about two degrees but after that doubling again of CO2, from 280 to 560 ppmv, has ever diminishing returns and from 370 to 740 ppmv, the increase is just over one degree. Since we won't get to 740 ppmv until deep into the 22nd Century, that's not very scary. To get to an alarming increase in global temperature, the true believers have to rely on an amplification theory--the little bit of more heat from CO2 causes more water to evaporate and that increased water vapor increases the temperature even more. Without water vapor amplification, there is no alarming rise in temperature possible, and the alarming part of the global warming climate change meme goes away. Check it out here and here.

So the burning of fossil fuel necessarily results in more water in the atmosphere, according to the alarmist. Which makes Mr. Egan's title a little ironic--Days of Dessication. Shouldn't it be ever wetter in the atmosphere? He's talking about the current drought in California. He talks about our 'fevered' planet like a good little alarmist, but then he stumbles into this truthful statement.

The drought itself may not be a result of climate change...
That's true, there were droughts in California that lasted over a century in the past 1500 years, back when there was no fossil fuel burning. It seems very unlikely that this two year drought is anything outside the normal ebb and flow of the clouds above California. Unfortunately, then Egan adds this nonsense to his true statement:

...but it is made worse by all the meteorological complications.


Oh, by the way, here are the long term Palmer drought indices for the middle of this month. Most of the United States is in good shape as far as drought is concerned. So much for the Permanent Southwestern Drought. My state is going like gangbusters hydrologically speaking

I think the short term drought was made worse because central Californians can no longer store sufficient water to survive a common drought because they have to keep it flowing to the sea to save the three inch bait fish, the delta smelt. Millions of acre feet of water have not been stored because of ecological concerns seriously out of balance. People first, smelts second, I always say. Not the other way around. I'll skip the smelt it, deltaed it non-comedy. Mr. Egan avoids talking about the real delta smelt issue beyond mere assertion that the smelt is absolutely key to a health California ecology. Yeah, right, about as vital as the Shoshone pupfish.

Egan seems to prefers to go ad hominem, a lot, rather than respond to the 'denier' arguments with rational counter arguments. This preference makes him come across as a smug asshole. Examples:

No surprise, some of the worst deniers of the obvious come from places where it pays to look the other way. Let me introduce Representative Devin Nunes, Republican from Fresno. Like most elected members of his party, Nunes apparently skipped out of science class.

I can't find out what Mr. Egan studied at U. Wash, while I was down the coast at Stanford, four decades ago. He certainly does not mention his vast and superior scientific studies anywhere on his little used website (We share an admiration for the sci fi writer Vernor Vinge, but that's about all we share, it seems). Perhaps he is a scientific genius who is modest. However, modest humans, secure in themselves, don't often go out of their way to insult others. I put his belligerence down to a hidden realization that he actually has little in the way of real scientific knowledge and has to put down people who don't share his faith in the invisible Sky God Seeohtu in order to make himself feel better about his own suppressed inadequacies. It's a valid theory, at least. Here's more snark.

But Nunes prefers the myth, firmly planting himself with the fact-denial majority of Republican lawmakers.
 And more:

As for stupid, the fish yields its time to the congressman from California.

He then reveals his utter lack of historical knowledge (even though he wrote a well reviewed book on the Dust Bowl) in calling the current two years of dessication a "drought for the age." I have to think the actual, centuries-long mega-droughts of the medieval period might have been bigger deals while this little one is of no real consequence or would be of no consequence if others of Mr. Egan's ilk hadn't demanded that all that water, which would be very useful to the central valley just about now, be flushed out to the ocean rather than pumped into storage for just this sort of normal California weather, for the sole benefit of small fry.

Every time there is a weather event that harms people, the alarmist true believers all start chanting: Seeohtu, global warming, climate change, the end is near, the planet is fevered and the like; but these events are absolutely normal--not more deadly, destructive, powerful, or frequent than in the past. The real issue here is the government interference in the sound hydrological plans, ruined by the delta smelt ruling. Egan is having none of that. Pity.

And his name calling is so off-putting that I had to respond in kind.

UPDATE: A single swallow does not make a Summer but here is the first of several storms lined up to bring water to California. Headline: Big storm brings heavy rain, snow to dry California.

Certainly not the end of the drought but perhaps the beginning of the end of the drought of the ages.

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