Cooking With The Sun - Saving the Planet 12

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Jul 2007 16:00:00 GMT

A public demonstration of eight solar cookers on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. from 12 – 6 PM in Upper House of Representatives Park behind the Longworth Building.

On Friday, the demonstration will be held 12 – 6 PM in Upper Senate Park by the fountain.

According to the EPA, almost three billion people still cook every day with traditional solid fuels (primarily wood, charcoal and animal waste). Their numbers are expected to increase substantially by 2020. The vast majority of these people live within thirty degrees north or south of the equator where the sun shines much of the year. The World Health Organization reports that over 1.5 million people die of respiratory disease each year by inhaling the fumes of their cooking fires. In developing nations millions of women and their children (who should be in school) spend hours each day foraging for fuel, resulting in denuded land, soil erosion, flooding and reduction in forest cover.

Solar cooking can dramatically reduce these problems. Solar cooking, when used as part of an integrated cooking program can reduce fuel consumption by more than 75%.

More than one million solar cookers are in use in China and India alone.

For additional information please contact: Pat McArdle at 703-254-8916/703-578-2932 solarwind1@mac.com

Tracking the Storm at the National Hurricane Center

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Jul 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Responding to the reports of disarray at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology and the Committee on Energy and Commerce took action to determine if the Center was indeed incapable of providing necessary forecasts during the hurricane season.

Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX), Chairman of the Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, convened a meeting in June with the heads of NOAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to learn more about the Quikscat satellite controversy. A hearing on the use of the Quikscat satellite data for hurricane forecasting had already been planned.

With the escalation of the controversy at the NHC in recent days, and subsequent action by NOAA Administrator Admiral Lautenbacher to place Hurricane Center Director William Proenza on leave, the Committees determined that further information was required.

This week they asked Admiral Lautenbacher for documents and records of communications from senior NWS officials and others involved in the controversy.

Witnesses Panel I
  • Mr. Bill Proenza, Director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC)
Panel II
  • Dr. Robert M. Atlas, Director, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
  • Mr. Don McKinnon, Director, Jones County Emergency Management Agency
Panel III
  • Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Under Secretary for Commerce, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Jeff Masters (Wunderground hurricane specialist) outside perspective: before the firing:

A political storm engulfed the National Hurricane Center this week, with a majority of the senior hurricane forecasters calling for Bill Proenza’s removal as director. The most visible issue revolved around the extraordinary focus on the aging QuikSCAT satellite. The public argument put forth by Mr. Proenza was that QuikSCAT data was so vital to hurricane track forecasting that without it, track forecast errors would increase significantly, leading to larger warning areas and increased costs for evacuation and emergency planning.

...

I believe that NHC official forecasts for landfalling storms in the Atlantic would not be significantly affected by the loss of the QuikSCAT satellite. I can’t think of a hurricane scientist out there who would defend using a study with only 19 cases that didn’t focus on landfalling storms, to make the case Proenza is making—particularly in light of the data from the unpublished Goerss study showing no effect of QuikSCAT data on NOGAPS model tropical cyclone track errors. Proenza should have at least attached some measure of uncertainty to his numbers, which he did not.

...

It greatly troubles me that the most visible and admired member of my profession has failed to use good science in his arguments for funding a replacement of the QuikSCAT satellite. The Director of the National Hurricane Center needs to be an able politician and good communicator, but being truthful with the science is a fundamental requirement of the job as well. Mr. Proenza has misrepresented the science on the QuikSCAT issue, and no longer has my support as director of the National Hurricane Center.

...

Having lost the support of most of his senior forecasters, and having misrepresented the science on the importance of the QuikSCAT satellite on hurricane forecasts, it would be best for Mr. Proenza to step down as director of the National Hurricane Center.

after the firing:
With hurricane season fast approaching and internal strife threatening “the effective functioning of the National Hurricane Center”, as stated in a letter signed by 23 of NHC’s 49 employees, NOAA did the best thing by reassigning director Bill Proenza this afternoon. Conrad Lautenbacher, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced Proenza has been placed on leave “until further notice.”

The reassignment puts NHC deputy director Ed Rappaport, 49, into the director’s hot seat. I greatly respect Dr. Rappaport, who has done a great job as deputy director and is a highly skilled hurricane forecaster. Dr. Rappaport has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas Tech. He began work in 1988 at NHC, and served as one NHC’s Hurricane Specialists before becoming chief of the Technical Support Branch. He is the best choice for director of NHC. He had wide support to become director last year when Max Mayfield retired, but turned down the job due to family reasons.

The State of Climate Change Science 2007, Pt. III

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 16 May 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Reorienting the U.S. Global Change Research Program Toward a User-Driven Research Endeavor

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 May 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced the Global Change Research and Data Management Act to strengthen and streamline federal climate change research and reorient it for state and local governments, planners and researchers, replacing the U.S. Global Change Research Program established in 1990.

Witnesses

  • Dr. Philip Mote, Climatologist, State of Washington
  • Dr. Michael MacCracken, President, International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Jack Fellows, Vice President, UCAR
  • Franklin Nutter, President, Reinsurance Assocation of America
  • Sarah Bittleman
  • Dr. James Mahoney

2:50 Dr. Mote They want to know what the probable changes are in rainfall, snowfall, and streamflow. The Northwest Hydropower Council wanted streamflow estimates. There’s already been an observed shift of two weeks in the start of the snowmelt. A national climate service is needed. To properly construct probabilistic scenarios at the regional level would require using tens of models; it would be too much for a regional center to undertake. Sea-level rise. Monitoring the climate, as HR 906 rightly addresses. The monitoring networks are slowly dwindling. The American Association of State Climatologists calls on Congress to save these networks from decline.

2:55 In recess.

3:20 Ms. Bittleman I work for the governor of Oregon here in Washington DC. The Western Governors Association appreciates the effort to make this bill relevant to the western states. The US has spent considerable dollars on understanding the science of climate change. Now the time has come to fund the study of adaptation. I need to recite some of the very real changes: smaller snowpacks, more extreme floods, more droughts, more wildfire, pests and disease. Congress and the Administration should fund research that makes mitigation and adaptation easier. Some states are creating their own climate change research centers, including Oregon. It is important that the program under HR 906 integrates the state offices and regional centers. We recommend that the bill be amended to establish a national climate information service, as Dr. Mote mentioned. Additionally the NCIS could provide national policy papers.

Decision makers at all levels of government and the private sector need accurate information.

3:27 Udall Are you saying the director of the USGCRP needs direct budget authority?

Fellows I think that the director of USGCRP have some level of budget authority and be close enough to the political center to push changes. When I was at the OMB we had every agency come in and present their programs.

Mahoney I had a hybrid position; I was Senate-confirmed, so I had a political position and access to the top of the OMB and the relevant cabinet officers. I think there should be a definite recognized management and coordination function. The division that generates the reports is greatly underresourced. Some direction by the Congress to see a more effective and efficient process would be a positive step.

3:32 Inglis The bill calls for the program to be updated every four years. Any thoughts?

MacCracken The first was developed in the early 1990s. We shifted in the mid-1990s, though without a formal plan. You do need to take a different perspective. There’s no optimal way to cut this problem into pieces. Requiring something in an update is useful.

Fellows The world climate society takes a look every five years. It would be interesting to look if you staggered the vulnerability and policy assessments, but the four-five year cycle is good.

3:35 Inglis One degree fahrenheit change and we have no more mountain trout.

Bittleman From the state perspective the entire process of data collection and how climate change is being experienced on the ground is what’s important. Every year the states are acting based on the data coming in. When there’s a year date for a report, that’s not as important as the flexibility to include the data, activity that are happening in the states.

3:37 Udall Regional vs. national assessments. How do we ensure the USGCRP meets both needs? I don’t see these things as separate. In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest we would like to gather information on a watershed level. We would like to see all of this information integrated. We see the possibility of integration being the real hope.

Nutter From the insurance perspective, regional assessments are imperative. The effect of climate change on extreme weather events in the Gulf is different from the Midwest or the Northeast.

McCracken We have tried to have sector assessments. If you’re interested in the forests locally, you need a regional perspective. If you’re looking at forest industry, you need national perspective. We also need the international perspective—migratory species, foreign investments, global health, refugees. The IPCC kind of looks at this, but hasn’t really taken a look at individual countries.

Udall Wehn we figure this out as a human race we’ll have created a template to face other challenges we’ll face. That keeps me going.

McCracken Climate change is intimately tied to meeting the Millenium Goals. It is all coupled and has to be looked at this way.

3:43 Nutter Those who look at protecting people’s property and lives. New York State has $2 trillion of insured properties. It’s a remarkable exposure to extreme weather events and climate change. This bill will have a real impact.

MacCracken In the 1990s we didn’t want climate change to be a justification for funding fusion research, for example. One of the things we struggled with in creating a useful assessment was what to focus on. That whole social science part of what has to be in climate change research isn’t well funded.

Mote Another aspect of this separation is that mitigating and adapting sometimes come together. As we design portfolios of alternative energy, are they resilient to climate changes? Such as hydropower. Climate change actually makes our hydropower generation more in line with demand for Washington, but means there will be less spare power for California in the summer.

3:50 Inglis Thank you.

Udall Thank you for appearing. I take the challenge of addressing global warming, as does Rep. Inglis and many other members of the House, very seriously. It’s one of our highest priorities in the Congress. This hearing is now adjourned.

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