Monday, February 20, 2017

More About Sea Ice, and More

And, just for the record, Arctic sea ice extent is currently ranked 3rd lowest for February 20ths, behind 2016 and 2006, and global sea ice extent is ranked lowest for this date.


Sorry for not posting much interesting lately, just numbers and political fluff. I haven't been feeling well for some time -- a few years -- and I thought it was that I was just getting older or not sleeping well or not in the best shape. But I just recently learned I have a disease called hyperparathyroidism -- my parathyroid gland is producing too much of its hormone ("PTH") that regulates calcium in the blood. As a result, my body thinks it needs more calcium in the bloodstream, which it is leeching out of bones and other tissues. The result can be a host of symptoms -- fatigue, headaches, weakness, poor sleep, depression, more and just feeling crummy -- and eventually, due to the bone loss, broken bones can show up, and osteoporosis. I haven't broken any bones in a long time, but I do feel pretty crummy these days, with a flushed face, very tired, headachy, easily exhausted, and kinda like the way one feels the day before you know you're getting the flu, or like I've been a few rounds in a boxing match with a few blows to my temples. My face is tired. I've had the flushed face for several years, but the other symptoms have come on only in the last 6-12 months. Again, I thought it was only that I was getting older, and I needed to bear down and tough my through it. But a blood test in December -- the first comprehensive blood test I've had since 2011, due to lack of health insurance -- showed my calcium level was a good bit too high, as was my PTH hormone level (produced by the parathyroid). It was the first time I had ever had that routinely checked, as far as I know. (I've kept a spreadsheet of my blood test results starting in 2005, when I lived in New Hampshire and there paid $350 cash for a blood panel, $25/month at a time.) Luckily my doctor put two and two together and raised the alarm for hyperparathyroidism -- the first time she ever caught one, she told me. (Hyperparathyroidism affects about 1-4 people per thousand, and not because they did anything "wrong." Usually, but not always, it strikes people in their 50s, and more women than men.) The disease also affects vitamin D levels, and mine were very low -- already a problem in the Pacific Northwest, due to its high latitude and relative lack of sunshine. (I've read that above about 45 degrees latitude, one simply can't get enough Vit D from sunshine -- the Sun's annual average angle is simply too low -- and supplements have to be taken). I was taking 10,000 IU of Vit D a day, and still the level in my blood was too low.

So I'm going up to OHSU in Portland in about 10 days for a full battery of tests and to consult with a physician and a surgeon. Thank God Obama I now have health insurance, at least until the Republicans take it away. The cause of hyperparathyroidism is usually (80% of the time) a tumor on one of the four small parathyroid glands (they're behind the thyroid, two on each side, each about the size of a grain of rice), causing it to overproduce its PTH hormone. The tumor is almost always benign, and removing it and the associated parathyroid gland usually fixes the problem, relatively simply. Some patient testimonies I've read -- OK, maybe they select just the good ones -- say it's effective within days and a striking improvement is felt. Which by now I'm really hoping is the case, because I'm feeling increasingly lousy. Part of what I'm feeling now is, I suspect, that I know that I have this disease, so I'm more attuned to the symptoms, and perhaps happy just to have an explanation, but some of it is, I can tell, that the disease is progressing and has already gone quite a ways -- I never had these headaches until the last month or so, and I never felt this smacked around the head all the time.

As I wrote, I thought I was just getting older and this is how older people feel, or that I wasn't getting enough exercise, or that it was somehow my fault. In fact I didn't even mention most of my symptoms to my doctors, and I probably would not have for a good while longer, maybe even years, absent the results of the recent comprehensive blood test.

So I'm very much hoping the upcoming tests suggest a path to a sound treatment. I'm fine with surgery, at this point -- it's relatively minimal, but it's still surgery. But I've had several in my life. And if that happens I hope it works and I can get back to feeling good again, or at least better, and back to regular work and regular life again. Probably it won't be that simple -- things usually aren't -- but I'm glad to have a place to at least start.

But the Trend is Still Up!

While both of the polar sea ice extents are low, Antarctic sea ice is just plain ridiculous.

Yesterday its extent set a new low for the satellite era, at 2.20 Mkm2. (The previous low was 2.26 Mkm2, way back in 1997.)

Amazingly, present Antarctic SIE is 16% below last year's value at this time. Last year's low was 2.58 Mkm2.

But the long-term trend, starting with the satellite data on 10/26/1978, is still very much upward, at 18.3 Kkm2/yr. That's down from its maximum of 23.7 Kkm2/yr in July 2015.

Perhaps this year is mostly noise and the ice will rebound. On the other hand, if this year represents a tipping point, as some think happened with Arctic SIE years ago, it won't. But if has fallen a large amount in just the last two years:

{This last graph is the 365-day moving average, and not corrected for leap years. With over 38 years of data, the 365-day moving average would have now fallen back about 9-10 days -- that is, what was once a Jan1-Dec31 average is now about a Dec23-Dec22 average. So probably worth fixing.}

A New Word: "ecomyopia"

"It is unlikely that the Anthropocene moniker has the symbolic power to correct ecomyopia, which the authors define as the tendency to not recognize, to ignore, or fail to act on new information that contradicts political arrangements, social norms, or world views...."

- "Ecomyopia in the Anthropocene," D.G. Casagrande et al, Anthropology Today, Volume 33, Issue 1, pages 23–25, February 2017.
Note the abstract ends with, "The global capitalist response to the Anthropocene will likely be to embrace technological hubris."

Friday, February 17, 2017

John Adams cp Donald Trump

"The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not,
therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth."
— John Adams, Massachusetts Constitution of 1780

Still More Ice Spikes

I don't know what it is about where I live now, but I keep getting ice spikes in my ice cube trays here.

Never have seen them anywhere else I've lived. But I like them. It's silly, but I feel like something special has happened whenever they show up.

(These are all the same ice spike.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump Only Play is Playing Everyone for a Fool

This morning I was driving for about an hour, spewing CO2 the entire way, and other pollutants as well, even daring to exhale, leaving rubber on the road, and I listened to most of Trump's press conference via an astonishing device that somehow plucks electromagnetic waves right out of the air.

It was flabbergasting, and frankly insulting that my country (let alone mine) has such a dick for a president. (And I didn't choose that word lightly.) Trump so clearly knows nothing, and covered it up by repeatedly lying throughout the press conference. And the dumbest part is that he thinks no one else knows he's incompetent and dishonest, viz. that his methods are working.

All while he's being laughed and exclaimed at, under their breath, by everyone in the room.

Instead of answering any questions, Trump would immediately shift to how terrible the White House leaks were -- during the campaign he loved leaks, especially about Hillary -- or moreso, how terribly "dishonest" the media are.

If only Trump spent as much time on governance as he does researching cable news ratings, he might -- might -- be passable as a politician.

But he can't even get this right, complaining about CNN, saying he's stopped watching, while clearly still watching what their shows say about him. And whining about the "failing" NY Times, while clearly stewing about everything they write about him.

The NY Times clearly isn't failing, and Trump's continued use of the word "failing" ambly reveals his insecurities about them.

So easy,

But the problem is deeper than this, I think.

Trump is attacking the very roots of society. Trump is actively -- for no other reason than his own selfish, authoritarian purposes -- attempting to label all media news as "fake news." Or at least the news reports he doesn't like, that don't portray him favorably.

Instead of confronting the reportage, as any mature person would, he just dismisses it as "fake" and immediately starts whining about the media. And those the words that fill up his press conference. Instead of talking about whether anyone on his campaign staff did talk to Russian officials, and WHILE THE RUSSIANS WERE HACKING John Podesta's emails -- he tries to make it about how "dishonest" the media is.

And he thinks this actual childish response somehow works.

I don't want a president -- or any representative -- who tries to play me for a fool. Trump is already the disaster most smart people thought he would be. Once people would have stormed the White House with pitchforks. Why are we who know better supposed to simply watch for the next four years while Trump assaults everything that is decent and values about this country?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is CO2 a "Pollutant?"

Image result for samuel alitoPerhaps you are as tired of this question as I am.

Answer: Natural CO2 is not a pollutant. Anthropogenic CO2 is a pollutant.

Too difficult to understand?

Apparently it is for at least one member of the US Supreme Court: Samuel Alito.

According to Slate, here's what Alito said this past Saturday, at a keynote speech at the Claremont Institute’s 2017 annual dinner on Saturday night:
Now, what is a pollutant? A pollutant is a subject that is harmful to human beings or to animals or to plants. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is not harmful to ordinary things, to human beings, or to animals, or to plants. It’s actually needed for plant growth. All of us are exhaling carbon dioxide right now. So, if it’s a pollutant, we’re all polluting. When Congress authorized the regulation of pollutants, what it had in mind were substances like sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter—basically, soot or smoke in the air. Congress was not thinking about carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
This is just dumb on a couple of levels.

First, as Mark Joseph Stern at Slate points out, EPA was the defendant in Mass v EPA 2007. The EPA didn't want to regulate CO2 -- Massachusetts sued them to force them to do so, under the Clean Air Act.

It's very strange that a Supreme Court Justice would not understand the basics of such a case that appeared before his court.

Morever: let's please start specifying clearly that anthropogenic CO2 is the pollutant, not all CO2, and certainly not the natural CO2 that existed in the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution, about 280 ppm.

That's really all you have to say: anthropogenic CO2, from our burning of fossil fuels is a pollutant -- an unwanted substance with deleterious effects -- but natural CO2, existing before the Industrial Revolution, is not.

And no, Justice Alito, human breathing do not contribute to the CO2 problem. If it did, and likewise for the respiration of all other mammals, we'd be up to our necks in CO2 and probably would not exist by now.

Please, man, learn a little science.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

More from John Bates

John Bates:

"I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people."

- Science, 2/8/17

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Yes, Salem, Oregon is Warming

Over a year and a half ago, there was a comment on a post of mine, "Why Very Warm Events are Exponentially More Probable in a Warmer World," about temperatures in Salem, Oregon, where I live, by Mark Albright of UW.

He gave this graph to show that temperatures in Salem, Oregon were in fact decreasing:
However, this graph is for the annual mean of the daily maximum temperatures. I can reproduce this trend from these data via Mark's site.

However, what if we look at the daily average temperature, defined as the average of Tmax and Tmin for the day? The result is quite different, with a positive trend:

The trend, since the record started in 1928, up until 2014, is +0.07 C/decade. Over the 30 years 1984-2014 the trend is +0.23 C/decade, easily positive and very worrisome. (It's equal to 0.41 F/decade.)

Anthropogenic global warming increases nightly minima more than it does daily maxima. So just looking at the trend in daily maxima can be misleading. Better to look at the trend in the daily average.

(note 2/13: corrected the label on the last graph.)