The Climate Show #14: volcanoes, black carbon and crocks from Christy

A busy news week sees Glenn and Gareth discussing volcanoes in Chile and Africa, busy pumping ash into the atmosphere and disrupting flights in South America, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East, an extreme spring in the USA, drought in Europe and a warm autumn in NZ, a new UN report on black carbon and how a reduction could cut future warming, Aussie scientists fighting back against climate denial, and forecasts for the summer ice minimum in the Arctic. John Cook from Skeptical Science deals with their new series on John Christy’s climate crocks, and introduces a great new graphic front end for the SkS climate literature database, plus we cover price reductions on solar panels, LEDs on streetlights in San Francisco and MIT’s Cambridge crude.

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News & commentary: [0:05:50]

Chile volcano: southern hemisphere’s turn to experience what happened last year in Europe – doesn’t threaten climate cooling (at least, not yet)

Earth Observatory


NZ ash forecasts from the Met Service.

But there’s one nearer the equator: Nabro in Eritrea

Follow the action at Dr Erik Klemmeti’s Eruptions blog

Jeff Masters on extreme weather in the US:

Nature’s fury reached new extremes in the U.S. during the spring of 2011, as a punishing series of billion-dollar disasters brought the greatest flood in recorded history to the Lower Mississippi River, an astonishingly deadly tornado season, the worst drought in Texas history, and the worst fire season in recorded history. There’s never been a spring this extreme for combined wet and dry extremes in the U.S. since record keeping began over a century ago, statistics released last week by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reveal.

And one consequence (among many): NOAA predicts that the annual “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be the biggest since records begin…

And a dry spring in Europe and SE Britain could mean France has to shut down some nuclear power stations because of a lack of cooling water.

PS: May was the warmest ever recorded in New Zealand… 2.2ºC warmer than 1971-2000 average. (Mt Hutt webcams here).

New UN report on “black carbon” just released

Guardian: UN – curbing black carbon would bring dramatic, quick benefits to all

UNEP press release

Report PDF


Aussie scientists hit back at sceptics with series of strongly worded articles at The Conversation

Open Letter.

The greenhouse effect is real.

Speaking science to climate policy.

And finally: First batch of forecasts for the Arctic summer sea ice minimum released.

NASA Arctic Mosaic, and the Arctic Sea Ice blog.

Debunking the sceptic, with John Cook of Skeptical Science [0:42:20]

Christy Crocks

“I think there’s been too much jumping to conclusions about seeing something happening in the climate and saying ‘well the only way that can happen is human effects”

“I think most of all, [current temperatures] are part of the normal ups and downs of climate.”

“We are finding that the climate is not very sensitive to CO2 and those kind of gases”

An Interactive History of Climate Science

Solutions [1:05:00]

Solar PV changing the game? Joe Romm reports:
Solar is Ready Now: ‘Ferocious Cost Reductions’ Make Solar PV Competitive

China Plans to Double Solar Capacity Target for 2015

Google funding rooftop solar PVs

Battery breakthrough (again): MIT Team build liquid fuelled batteries for cars – Cambridge crude!

Another kind of energy storage: an “energy bag

And energy efficiency: San Francisco replacing sodium streelt lights with LEDs – saves 50% energy…

Thanks to our media partners:, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

13 thoughts on “The Climate Show #14: volcanoes, black carbon and crocks from Christy”

  1. Top show!

    While I really like the ‘interactive history’ flash animation, and particularly enjoy watching the bubbles roll around, I’m none-too-sure about this ‘neutral’ designation; let’s confidently predict that this will be spun in certain circles (boom boom) as ‘aha! SkS’s own chart shows 50% of papers don’t support the AGW hypothesis!’

    ‘Neutral’ surely belongs only to those papers that specifically tested the theory in some way and concluded that they were unable to find sufficient evidence for or against AGW to take a position, surely? I get the impression from the discussion that’s not what we’re dealing with here. If the paper ‘doesn’t directly set out to directly resolve the myth’ does it even belong in this list? Or need a separate category?

    The number of ‘skeptic’ papers truly is pathetic, at 4%. As with so many other issues, it’s worth noting that the proponents of an ideology predicated on this tiny sample are the first to bleat about the dangers posed by acceding to ‘minority voices’…

    Incidentally, Australia has a net feed in electricity tariff, meaning that I am paid a (significantly) higher premium for that electricity I export to the grid in excess of my consumption. Comparing my inverter’s output readings to the dual meter’s digital display does my head in, so I just assume Origin (energy) has their act together!

    At any rate, with 2 adults and three adult students in the household even our old 1 kW anamorphic system means electricity bills thus far have been less than $30 for the 2 quarters we’ve been here, including the supply charge, and noting the fact we’re paying the extra tariff for 100% wind for our incoming power! Better than a poke with a sharp stick…

    And we’re on the carbon ‘neutral’ offset for our natural gas usage, too. An extra $50 a year flat-fee theoretically plants sufficient trees to offset the carbon we’ve pumped out. Working in the revegetation industry I’m the first to think these figures are pretty iffy, and there’s the whole question of whether revegetation can ever offset carbon that was stored underground, rather than carbon that was released from historic massive vegetation clearance. However, it’s better than nowt, and has lots of other social and environmental benefits, too.

  2. Just listened with disbelief to the plethora of old myth spread by Matt Ridley on National Radio, interviewed by Kim Hill. From magnets from China making wind turbines dirty and impossible to scale up to wind turbines slicing eagles to solar should be shunned until (somehow miraculously) cost have come down to shale oil being so abundant that we can go on biggering the world economies for centuries to come to the current path of the economy constantly reducing the ecological footprint of humanity to oil spills now being far less than in the past to the regurgitation of the old DDT lies. What planet is Matt Ridley living on? Who pays this shill for the mythology he generates? How come he can speak on National Radio without having a sane member of our species being given the opportunity to correct the nonsense he dished up?

    1. Yeah I heard that too – couldn’t stomach it after a while and switched it off! I understand he calls himself an “optimistic rationalist”; well If that is the case then I want to hear more from pessimistic irrationalists in future. They might talk more sense.

      1. Ridley comes across as a complete fraud. He ran the Northern Rock bank in England into the ground and for a “hater of the state and state regulation” he did the unthinkable: accepted close to 30 Billion Pounds in British state rescue money for the ship he ran aground. So much for this little libertarian blunderer. Good Ridleyance Matt Ridley I say…!

  3. The thing that surprises me is how poorly people learn from the past – talking about human behaviour here. The media and politicians are going to be held to account at some time in the future. The line about being journalists and just doing their job, isn’t going to hold any sway when the rabid masses turn on them.

    Bill – yeah, we’ve discussed categorizing the papers differently, but the thing I like about the concept is being able to easily find peer-reviewed literature that rebuts each denier myth. It’s a work in progress, there’s many thousands of papers yet to be added.

  4. Thanks for referring to the Arctic Sea Ice Blog, Gareth! I just mentioned you and Glenn this week in a post on poll results so far (from a poll on the blog):

    For instance looking at New Zealand, we see that everyone there believes the minimum will be below 4.5 million square km. There used to be three green flags there for quite a while, and I figured this had to be Glenn and Gareth from the excellent Climate Show (the third one probably being Gareth’s dog), but they have now been joined by some other Kiwis.


    I really enjoy listening to the Climate Show while working. Great episode.

  5. I’m having a bit of a chuckle listening to Gareth talk about Illinois and point to the state of New York (I’m from Illinois) — Gareth, look toward the middle where it has the 106 — LOL.

    Glenn, I don’t think you get as much credit as you should. Kudos to you for always putting on a great show!

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