Friday melts, weird weather and whales (it’s been a long time…)

It’s been a long time since my last post: apologies for that. You may blame a bad cold, an urgent need for root canal work, the peak of the truffle season (and truffle tours for culinary heroes1 ), the start of pruning and political distractions for the drop off in activity here. Normal service should resume in the near future, but meanwhile here are a few of the things that have caught my eye over the last week or two. You may therefore consider this an open thread – and given what follows, somewhat more open than usual…

The political distraction, of course, has been the response to Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. I haven’t yet read the book — it’s queued up on the iPad — but as everyone now knows, it concerns the sordid activities of right-wing attack blogger Cameron Slater, and in particular his close ties with senior government politicians. Slater has a long record of climate denial — often lifting material from µWatts or the Daily Mail to support his ignorant bluster — but the revelation that he published paid material for PR companies masquerading as his own opinion begs a question: was there a similar motivation for his climate denial posts?

As far as I can tell, Hager’s book only mentions climate once, in a discussion of Slater’s pet hates, but it will be interesting to see if the “raw data” now being drip fed into the public domain by the hacker2 who obtained Slater’s emails and Facebook chat messages contains any hints of another motivation — if it indeed it does go beyond the knee-jerk denial so common on the far right of NZ politics. For the record, I should note that Slater once used the words “twat” and “fraud” in close conjunction with my name. It would appear that both are likely to apply rather more aptly to him.

The real world, of course, obeys the laws of physics rather than the wishful thinking of political smear merchants, and out here the signs of continued warming are unmistakable. Europe’s Cryosat has detected a big increase in ice sheet melt at both poles, for example:

A new assessment from Europe’s CryoSat spacecraft shows Greenland to be losing about 375 cu km of ice each year.

Added to the discharges coming from Antarctica, it means Earth’s two big ice sheets are now dumping roughly 500 cu km of ice in the oceans annually.

“The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009,” said Angelika Humbert from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute.

The atmosphere is also responding to energy accumulation by delivering an astonishing sequence of heavy rainfall events and flash floods. The BBC reports that 160 people have died in floods in Nepal and northern India, while in Hiroshima 36 people have died in landslides triggered by rain falling at rates of 100mm per hour (Japan Times). In Sweden, heavy rain is causing “catastrophic” flooding, while last month northern Italy bore the brunt of torrential downpours. Flash floods also hit parts of Arizona earlier this week. Nor should we forget the heavy rains that brought damaging floods to Northland in July. For a roundup of July’s weather, check out Chris Burt’s blog at Weather Underground.

Some of these rainfall extremes may be explained by the poleward expansion of the tropics, bringing warmer wetter air into the mid latitudes, as this new paper explains. Some of that tropical air may have been tickling Britain, which apart from experiencing some flash flooding has also just recorded its warmest January to July period since records began. And as a WMO conference found this week: “rising temperatures will have a “multiplying effect on weather events as we know them”.

Finally, and in brief: Earth Overshoot Day shot past this week – earlier than ever; warming may be hiding in the Atlantic; Choiseul in the Solomon Islands becomes the first town to relocate because of sea level rise; and The Wireless is running lots of good climate material this week.

  1. See also: why. []
  2. @whaledump on Twitter, see here for why whale dumps are important for climate. []

27 thoughts on “Friday melts, weird weather and whales (it’s been a long time…)”

  1. I have just read Dirty Politics, and tend to support the evidence and conclusions in the book. Of course theft and hacking is wrong, like the theft of the climategate emails. But there can be a public interest in publishing things sometimes.

    In the climategate scenario I’m not convinced any wrong doing was exposed. Numerous enquiries found nothing of any substance.

    Nicky Hagers book however is rather more concerning and convincing. Massive numbers of emails and messages, and rather compelling evidence and conclusions.

  2. As reported in today’s Sunday Star-Times, the latest dump of Whale Oil emails released by the hacker includes a discussion on targeting Generation Zero for its stance on reducing fossil fuel emissions.

    The discussion was between Slater, ex-Nat MP Katherine Rich (Food & Groceries Council) and Carrick Graham (corporate PR droid).

    In Graham’s own words:

    That’s our job. They’re on the target list.

    I wonder which corporation has contracted him for that?

    Any ideas, Andy?

    1. I do t know anything about the hacking.

      I suggest you ask Kim Dotcom for details. He has been bragging about hacking the German Chacellors credit rating recently, so join the dots.

          1. The emails are not on the web. They are being drip fed by @whaledump

            There has been a lot of speculation as to the identity of @whaledump, of which I couldn’t possibly comment

    1. Indeed, Bill, it is most gratifying to see the political / corporate rat-f**ckers becoming the rat-f**ckees for once.

      Bwaahahahaha, as those PR shills were fond of saying, it’s popcorn time!

      1. Yeas its somewhat gratifying to see the right wing bad boys network unraveling over their dirty tricks. Its amazing how often in the saga old tobacco connections surface. This election is becoming interesting.

        1. Yes this election campaign is getting interesting. I would say it is taking the form of a badly scripted Bond movie with all sorts of villains and not many good guys in sight.

          I don’t actually think it is a very good time for NZ, regardless of your political leanings.

          1. I’ve known Nicky Hager for just short of four decades, and he is, without doubt, one of the good guys!

            Hats off, also, to the Whaledump hacker, who has used his / her skills to inform all Kiwis exactly how our country is being run, and in whose interests…

          2. AndyS, I have read four of Nicky Hagers books, and he would be one of the good guys. Like anyone he has political leanings, but he has been critical of both left and right.He does his job very well, and no more can be expected. What more could you expect?

            What he exposes is unpleasant, but as they say daylight is a good disinfectant sometimes.

            1. Nicky Hagar may well be a good guy, but I am not so sure about the motives of the hacker or the person who paid the hacker (if such a person exists)

              I’m sure these facts will become available in time. Certain players in this saga seem to like bragging about their exploits

            2. AndyS, yeah I agree I’m not sure about the motives of the hacker. I did read something that it may be a reaction to Cameron Slater calling some west coaster a feral. But who really knows.

            3. According to his mother on RNZ yesterday, the supposed “feral” was a smart IT guy, who had a lot of smart IT folk at his funeral.

              She thinks it likely that one of them decided to pay Whaleoil back. If that’s so, then good on them.

            4. By suggesting that her son’s friends would engage in criminal activity doesn’t exactly sound like a great compliment to them.

              Bear in mind that offices were also broken into and laptops stolen. Also, it wasn’t just Slater’s emails that were hacked. David Farrar and others were hacked.

            5. Farrar was never hacked. A member of his staff spoke to Hager. The various thefts that Nats complained after the book was launched about appear to have been completely unrelated.

            6. Travis Poulson (a WhaleOil mod) was also hacked (according to Slater)

              Either way, it seems unlikely that some students from Tai Poutini Poly in Greymouth would have pulled this stunt.

              My money’s elsewhere ….

  3. I am getting fed up with these 50 year flood events which happen every year. We had just planted a river bank to restore it when it was washed out. We replanted it and it was washed out again. Each major rainfall event takes another load of topsoil and dumps it in the Bay destroying the fish breeding grounds. This is climate change.

  4. On the topic of “Ken Ring is wrong about everything”, top prize in this year’s NIWA Wellington Regional Science Fair went to a project that assessed the accuracy of Ring’s weather forecasts. It concluded that there was zero correlation between Ring’s forecasts and the actual weather. In fact, Ring performs worse than chance!

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