Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) range from southern Arizona, south Texas and Louisiana, through parts of Mexico and Central American to Brazil. Their range is expanding northward.

These large ducks (body length about 22 inches, wingspan 37 inches) are reddish brown, have a black belly, white wing patches, and a pink to orange bill. They are long-legged, long-necked, and are sociable and noisy. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes them as “boisterous.”

My own experience with these ducks is confined to the mixed-species aviary at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Often, a gang of these noisy ducks will follow me around, pecking at my legs and attempt to untie my shoelaces.

Whistling ducks can be found in marshes, ponds, and lakes where they feed on aquatic animals such as snails. Their main diet, however, consists of seeds and grains. Whistling ducks frequent grasslands and agricultural areas where they feed on many agricultural crops including sorghum, millet, corn, rice, and wheat. They also eat insects and spiders.

Whistling ducks are casual about nesting. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: they usually nest in tree hollows where a limb has broken or the trunk has rotted away. They typically don’t build a nest; they lay their eggs directly on whatever debris has collected there. Cavity openings range from 5–12 inches across. When nesting on the ground, they make a scrape or a shallow bowl of grasses, with thick vegetation overhead, such as willow, mesquite, or cactus. They typically lay 9 to18 eggs which are incubated for 25 to 30 days. Hatchlings are nearly independent upon hatching.

About the noise. Whistling ducks do not make the “quacking” noise of other ducks. Rather they have a range of sounds. Listen here.

According to ASDM, United States populations are increasing, probably because of nest boxes. This species was rare in Arizona before 1949 but has since become a rather common nesting bird.

Trouble with squirrels in Los Angeles – a feminist, posthumanist view

I suspect than most readers missed a new study of squirrels in Los Angeles that was recently published in Gender, Place & Culture, A Journal of Feminist Geography. I was alerted to this paper by an article in American Thinker: “’Liberal studies’ professor writes that squirrels are victims of ‘racist’ media bias.” (Link) I was able to download and read the whole paper, but I now find that it is behind a paywall. You can, however, read the abstract (link).

The paper contains a smidgen of science, but it is basically a politically-correct rant about gender equality. The paper is filled with the vernacular of leftist academia and is actually quite amusing because of the academia-speak.

Paper title: When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California

Author: Teresa Lloro-Bidart, liberal Studies department, california State Polytechnic university, Pomona, Pomona, Ca, USA

The Abstract:

Eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), reddish-brown tree squirrels native to the eastern and southeastern United States, were introduced to and now thrive in suburban/urban California. As a result, many residents in the greater Los Angeles region are grappling with living amongst tree squirrels, particularly because the state’s native western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) is less tolerant of human beings and, as a result, has historically been absent from most sections of the greater Los Angeles area. ‘Easties,’ as they are colloquially referred to in the popular press, are willing to feed on trash and have an ‘appetite for everything.’ Given that the shift in tree squirrel demographics is a relatively recent phenomenon, this case presents a unique opportunity to question and re-theorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests, in part, through a politics whereby animal food choices ‘[come] to stand in for both compliance and resistance to the dominant forces in [human] culture’. I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions. I conclude by drawing out the implications of this research for the fields of animal geography and feminist geography.

Prior to reading this paper, I had not heard of “feminist geography.” Wikipedia defines it thusly:

“The geography of women focuses upon description of the effects on gender inequality. Its theoretical influences focus on welfare geography and liberal feminism. Geographically, feminist geographers emphasize on constraints of distance and spatial separation. As Seager et al. argues, gender is only the narrow-minded approach when understanding the oppression of women throughout the decades of colonial history. In such, understanding the geography of women would mean taking a critical approach in questioning the dimensions of age, class, ethnicity, orientation and other socio-economic factors.”

Wikipedia goes on the say:

Socialist feminist geography seeks to explain inequality and the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy. It uses Marxism and Socialist feminism to explain the interdependence of geography, gender relations and economic development under capitalism. Socialist feminist geography revolved around the questions of how to reduce gender inequality based on patriarchy and capitalism. It has theoretical influences on Marxism, socialist feminism.” (link)

One more example of the point of view and jargon in the paper (edited):

Feminist posthumanist performativity and intersectionality

Feminist scholars first systematically began to consider ‘the animal question’ in the late 1970s with the development of ecofeminism. Although this early work was criticized as essentialist for its treatment of the category of ‘woman’ as a white, western, heterosexual subject and because some theorists worried it celebrated the association of women with caring tasks (e.g. caring for animals or the environment) to the detriment of establishing women as political actors, ecofeminism nevertheless made important contributions to feminist theory, particularly regarding human-animal relationships. Ecofeminists were the frst to theorize animal oppression through intersectional lenses, arguing that the same social systems and structures that oppress women also oppress animals.

Such is the State of the Union today. “May you live in interesting times.”

Note: I support the idea of feminism and gender equally. I do not support jargon-laden papers such as this one, no matter what the field of study is.

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

Natural variation trumps CO2

Many climate scientists claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal driver of global warming. I have asked several University of Arizona professors, who make such a claim, to provide supporting physical evidence. So far, none have been able to justify the claim with physical evidence.

In this article, we will examine the Earth’s temperature and the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere at several time scales to see if there is any relationship. I stipulate that the greenhouse effect does exist. I maintain, however, that the ability of CO2 emissions to cause global warming is tiny and overwhelmed by natural forces. The main effect of our “greenhouse” is to slow cooling.

There is an axiom in science which says: “correlation does not prove causation.” Correlation, however, is very suggestive of a relationship. Conversely, lack of correlation proves that there is no cause-and-effect relationship.

Phanerozoic time – the past 500 million years:

 

Estimates of global temperature and atmospheric CO2 content based on geological and isotope evidence show little correlation between the two. Earth experienced a major ice age in the Ordovician Period when atmospheric CO2 was 4,000ppm, 10 times higher than now. Temperatures during the Cretaceous Period were rising and steamy, but atmospheric CO2 was declining.

Notice also, that for most of the time, Earth’s temperature was much warmer than now and life flourished. There were some major extinction periods, all associated with ice ages.

Sources:

Berner, R.A. and Kothavala, Z, 2001, GEOCARB III: A Revised Model of Atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic Time, American Journal of Science, Vol. 301, February, 2001, P. 182–204

Scotese, C.R., http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

Our current ice age – the past 420,000 years:

During the latter part of our current ice age, glacial-interglacial cycles occurred with a periodicity of about 100,000 years which correlates with the changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun as it changes from nearly circular to elliptical with an eccentricity of about 9%. Here we see an apparent correlation between temperature and CO2. The data are from ice cores collected at the Vostok station in Antarctica. The scientists working on the Vostok core noticed that temperature changes PRECEDED changes in CO2 concentration by about 800 years. Again, we see that CO2 doesn’t have much influence on temperature, but temperature has great influence on CO2concentration because temperature controls CO2 solubility in the ocean.

Sources:

Petit, J.R., et al., 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399: 429-436.

Mudelsee, M, 2001. The phase relations among atmospheric CO2 content, temperature and global ice volume over the past 420 ka, Quaternary Science Reviews 20:583-589.

Siegenthaler, U. Et al., 2005. Stable carbon cycle-climate relationship during the late Pleistocene. Science 310: 1313-1317.

The Holocene – the past 10,000 years:

The Holocene represents the current interglacial period. For most of the past 10,000 years, temperature was higher than now. CO2 was fairly steady below 300ppm (vs over 400ppm now). There were cycles of warm and cool periods at a periodicity of 1200 to 1500 years. This periodicity correlates with the interplay of the several solar cycles. The sun itself goes through cycles of solar intensity and magnetic flux. When the cycles are in a strong phase, the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere is reduced, there are fewer clouds to block the sun, so it is warmer. When solar cycles wane, as is beginning to happen now, more cosmic rays enter the atmosphere and produce more clouds which block the sun, so it becomes cooler. The number of sunspots (hence magnetic flux) varies on an average cycle of 11 years. There are also 87-year (Gliessberg) and 210-year (DeVriess-Suess) cycles in the amplitude of the 11-year sunspot cycle which combine to form an approximately 1,500-year cycle of warming and cooling.

The 20th Century:

 

The first part of the 20th Century experienced warming in the 1920s and 1930s comparable to current temperatures. According to NASA, atmospheric CO2 rose from 295ppm in 1900 to 311ppm in 1940. Major emissions from burning fossil fuels, however, commenced after WWII in the mid 1940s. The period 1940-1970 saw a CO2 rise of 311ppm to 325ppm. That period also showed global cooling to such an extent that climate scientists were predicting a return to glacial conditions. From about 1980 to 2000, CO2 rose from 339ppm to 370ppm and we had warming during that period until the super El Nino of 1997/1998. Some of this data has been “corrected” by NOAA.

Source: NOAA Climate at a glance

The 21st Century so far 

Microwave data from satellites converted to temperature.

Between the El Nino of 1997 and that of 2016, there have been temperature fluctuations but no net warming. Atmospheric CO2 rose from 363ppm to 407ppm today. It seems that there is no correlation between global temperature and CO2.

As I said at the beginning, while the CO2-induced greenhouse effect has some hypothetical warming potential, that warming is tiny and overwhelmed by the forces of natural variation. So far, I have seen no physical evidence to contradict my contention.

Source : http://www.drroyspencer.com/2017/05/uah-global-temperature-update-for-april-2017-0-27-deg-c/

See also: Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

More March Madness – AZ Star blames human-caused climate change for March heat

On Sunday, April 30, the Arizona Daily Star published a front-page story by Tony Davis which proclaimed “Greenhouse gases called a factor in March heat.” (Link to online version)

The story begins: “Human-caused climate change was at least partly to blame and probably mostly to blame for Tucson’s record-setting March heat, says a researcher with expertise in this field.”

This story is another example of speculation based on computer modeling and cherry-picked data rather than physical evidence. The Star consulted Dr. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute who analyzed possible factors for explaining Tucson’s March temperatures. “He concluded that long-term temperature trends point almost certainly to human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions as a factor. The unresolved question, he said, is how big of a factor they are.” The article provides no physical evidence to support that conclusion.

Ignoring the high temperatures during the 1900s to 1930s, van Oldenborgh examined the record beginning in 1950 and found “a clear upward trend in the March high temperatures started in the middle 1970s.” (See my article: March 2017 – Hottest Ever in Tucson? for earlier temperature data. That article shows Tucson’s temperatures steadily rising, probably due to the urban heat-island effect, while temperatures in rural Tombstone remained level.)

From the Star: “Looking across Southern and Central Arizona high temperatures for March, van Oldenborgh found they seem to be warming across the region but that Tucson’s temperatures are rising faster than in nearby cities Casa Grande and Willcox.”

“The urban heat-island effect often accounts for differing temperatures between larger and smaller cities. But van Oldenborgh said he tried to account for such differences by focusing his analysis on daytime high temperatures, not nighttime lows that are most commonly affected by the heat island effect.” So he didn’t study the heat island effect.

Oldenborgh looked at computer models. One model set “showed that March high temperatures have risen at a point near Tucson at about 2.5 times the rate the global average temperature has risen since about 1950. The model shows that is the local effect of global warming.” (A new term: local global warming?) The other model set “showed that Tucson has received on average less long-term warming than shown by the first model.”

The article contained much “expert” speculation, but from the material presented, I see no physical evidence justifying the conclusion nor the headlines that could attribute the high March temperatures to carbon dioxide emissions. If it was not just a quirk of natural variation, then maybe Tucson has its own evil cloud of carbon dioxide hovering above the city. Of course, there was lots of hot air expelled by local politicians in March.

In my opinion, this type of story is, to put it politely, junk science, designed to stir up alarm about a subject that has become purely political. It is not really news, but propaganda.

Here is the temperature record from the USHCN weather station at the University of Arizona. The top red line shows March high temperatures. The other lines show a slow rise consistent with the urban heat island effect. Had van Oldenborgh used this more complete record, his “clear upward trend” would have disappeared.

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Also look at this story from 2012: MILD WINTER MAKES MARCH MADNESS

The Oman geoengineering scheme to save the planet

A story in the Arizona Daily Star, 4-14-17 (the great march for science issue) shows how some scientists create the most tenuous links between their research and climate change as a plea for funding.

This story is “Oman’s mountains may hold clues for reversing climate change.” (Link) The lede: “Deep in the jagged red mountains of Oman, geologists are searching for an efficient and cheap way to remove carbon dioxide from the air and oceans — and perhaps begin to reverse climate change. They are coring samples from one of the world’s only exposed sections of the Earth’s mantle to uncover how a spontaneous natural process millions of years ago transformed carbon dioxide into limestone and marble.”

The researchers are excited because the exposed mantle rock is mostly peridotite, a coarse-grained igneous rock made up of the minerals olivine and pyroxene, both magnesium silicates. “They hope to answer the question of how the rocks managed to capture so much carbon over the course of 90 million years — and to see if there’s a way to speed up the timetable.” A researcher goes on to say, ““Every single magnesium atom in these rocks has made friends with the carbon dioxide to form solid limestone, magnesium carbonate, plus quartz.”

A couple of nitpicks: Limestone is calcium carbonate, not magnesium carbonate (Calcium and magnesium together with carbonate form a rock called dolomite). Marble is a metamorphic rock which requires heat and/or pressure to form. That “spontaneous natural process” happened not only millions of years ago, but is a continuing natural process in the ocean when calcium ions derived from weathering of surface rocks combine with carbonate ions in the ocean. Basaltic ocean crustal rocks act as a buffer by continuously removing CO2 from the ocean by combining carbonate with calcium derived from surface weathering of rocks.

Their great scheme is this: “a drilling operation could cycle carbon-rich water into the newly formed seabed on oceanic ridges far below the surface. Just like in Oman’s mountains, the submerged rock would chemically absorb carbon from the water. The water could then be cycled back to the surface to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, in a sort of conveyor belt.”

Perhaps the researchers made the climate change link to their research just to suck up grant money so they can continue studying. The geology is interesting, but their idea sounds like another crazy, expensive, and totally unnecessary geoengineering scheme. (See Wacky Geoengineering Schemes to Control Climate)

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Tucson’s March for Science – a plea for continued climate funding

The several “Marches for Science” (held April 22) around the country are not really about science, but about fear that President Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA and other agencies for climate research will make federal grants disappear. It’s about the money, not the climate.

A front page story in the Arizona Daily Star ( 4-14-17) was about Tucson’s “March for Science.” (Link) They called off the march itself, because they could not afford the price “to barricade North Stone Avenue, hire off-duty police and medics, and take out insurance.” Instead, they settled for a rally on Saturday.

The article featured University of Arizona professor Scott Saleska who is concerned that cuts to the EPA budget will jeopardize his research funding. The article quotes part of a letter which Saleska and other professors sent to EPA head Scott Pruitt.

Here is the money quote: “In fact, we know with an exceptionally high degree of confidence that most of the climate warming over at least the last six decades has been caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.”

I emailed Dr. Saleska (on April 14) asking this question: “What specific physical evidence supports the contention that CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of recent warming? Note: computer simulations are not physical evidence. Consensus is not physical evidence.”

Dr. Saleska replied on Thursday, April 20. Rather than citing specific evidence, he deflected the question: “My apologies for the slow reply. Busy week. But you raise an interesting question. What kind of evidence are you looking for? That is, what evidence would, in your mind, support the contention if it were observed?”

My response: “I think physical evidence supporting your contention does not exist because the hypothesis is wrong. So again, what physical evidence do you have in support?”

I have posed that same question to four other UofA “climate science” professors during public meetings. None could cite any supporting physical evidence. Strange that they all have an “exceptionally high degree of confidence” but can cite no physical evidence.

Once upon a time, science was based on empirical evidence rather than politics.

Most of the climate models make the assumption that CO2 is the main driver of global temperature. That assumption, however, causes model output to diverge widely from observations, showing that the assumption is wrong:

 

On the national “March for Science” website (link) is this statement: “We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”[emphasis added] Where is the evidence for the policy on global warming?

In my opinion, climate science has turned into political science and many professors fear that “draining the swamp” will kill their cash cow.

See some real physical evidence:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Climate Madness 10

Here is another collection of recent articles that show the madness and stupidity of global warming hype. I lead off by reporting that my own Congressman, “Rowl” Grijalva, wants to ban politically incorrect books:

Democrats Ask Teachers To Destroy Books Written By ‘Climate Deniers’

by Andrew Follett, Daily Caller

Three senior House Democrats asked U.S. teachers to destroy a book written by climate scientists challenging the environmentalist view of global warming.

The Democrats were responding to a campaign by the conservative Heartland Institute that is sending copies of the 2015 book, “Why Climate Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to about 200,000 science teachers. Democratic Reps. Bobby Scott of the Committee on Education, Raúl M. Grijalva of the Committee on Natural Resources, and Eddie Bernice Johnson of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology all issued a statement telling teachers to trash the book. Read more (You can download the book for free here.)

From the alternative universe of California:

California doubles down on stupid

by Anthony Watts

From the LA Times and the “let’s double down on stupid” department:

A cornerstone of California’s battle against climate change was upheld by a state appeals court that ruled the cap-and-trade program does not constitute an unconstitutional tax, as some business groups had claimed.

The 2-1 decision from the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento does not eliminate all the legal and political questions that have dogged the program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But environmental advocates dismayed by President Trump’s decision to roll back federal regulations in Washington were buoyed by the victory, which preserves the only program of its kind in the country. Read more

And: Global warming fears are driving Malibu home buyers to higher ground out of fear of rapid sea level rise. (Source)

More stupid states:

States File Legal Challenge Asserting Trump’s EPA Must Fight Global Warming

by Chris White, Daily Caller

A coalition of states filed a legal challenge against the Trump administration’s decision to roll back a slew of Obama-era climate regulations.

The legal motion comes after Trump signed an executive order targeting climate change regulations ushered in by former President Barack Obama. The New York-led group of states argue Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has a legal obligation to regulate emissions some climate scientists believe contribute to global warming. Read more

Reigning in politically incorrect ceiling fans:

Dems, Enviros Sue To Force Trump To Issue More Regs On Household Appliances

by Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller

Democratic attorneys general and environmentalists are suing the Trump administration for delaying the implementation of federal energy efficiency regulations for household appliances and other equipment.

Republicans have long been critical of Energy Department efficiency regulations, and many economists have argued such rules don’t make much of a difference on overall energy consumption. Efficiency regulations also increase appliance prices, but proponents argue the increased up front cost is more than outweighed by increased energy savings over time. DOE’s ceiling fan rule is expected to cost $4.4 billion. Read more

Watch your language!

“Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’”

by David Middleton

As President Trump seeks to reorganize government agencies:

A supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings or other written communication. Setting aside the fact that it is truly idiotic for the Department of Energy to even have an office, department or bureau with the word “climate” in its name… The irony here is priceless. (Read more)

The state of academia:

The carbon footprint of crime has fallen, study finds

by Anthony Watts

A study led by an Engineering Doctorate student at the University of Surrey has found that the carbon footprint of crime over the last 20 years has fallen.

The study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, applied estimates of the carbon footprint of criminal offences to police-recorded crime and self-reported victimization survey data, to estimate the carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales between 1995 and 2015. (Read more) It’s nice that criminals are being more politically correct.

Oh, never mind:

Ex-Chief Scientist: Our Advice To Gov’t On Preventing Global Warming Was Wrong

by Andrew Follett, Daily Caller

Former chief scientist Sir David King admitted he was wrong in advising the U.K. government to encourage diesel vehicles to fight global warming.

King said the government overestimated the effectiveness of its programs to encourage diesel vehicles. King was the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007 and until recently a special representative for climate change.

King advised the U.K. government to push programs to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and concluded that switch to diesel cars would be better for the environment.

Though well-meaning, the continent’s environmental efforts haven’t decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and have raised power prices. Many of Europe’s anti-global warming policies have actually made the situation worse. Read more

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“The curse of man, and cause of nearly all of his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.” –H. L. Mencken

See also:
Climate Madness 1
Climate Madness 2

Climate Madness 3

Climate Madness 4

Climate Madness 5

Climate Madness 6

Climate Madness 7

Climate Madness 8

Climate Madness 9

March 2017 – Hottest Ever in Tucson?

Front page news in the print version of Arizona Daily Star on April 4th proclaimed “March here was hottest on record.” (See online version) That may be true but the headline is also misleading because apparently the “record” refers to the weather station at Tucson International Airport which starts in the mid 1940s. Hot weather in the early 1900s is ignored.

The following graphs come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “climate at a glance” page. (Note: NOAA data does not yet include any 2017 measurements.) The National Weather Service is part of NOAA.

Here is the average March temperature for all of Arizona:

Here is the average March temperature for Southeastern Arizona:

Here are the plots for Tucson March average temperatures and maximum temperatures:

 

 

 

 

 

I assume that the truncation of data prior to about 1945 reflects the start of the official temperature record from a weather station at the Tucson International Airport. Other weather stations in Tucson, such as the one on the University of Arizona campus, have been ignored. BTW, the UofA weather station was established in 1891. So, the question is whether or not the “hottest on record” was in fact, the hottest.

For additional perspective, see average and maximum Arizona temperatures for each month here.

Tucson is subject to warming from the urban heat island effect. All the asphalt and concrete absorb energy during the day and release it at night. Also the Tucson weather stations are sited near asphalt and concrete which tend to make the readings higher than they would be in properly sited stations. To demonstrate this, compare Tucson temperatures with Tombstone. Tucson temperatures show a steady rise while Tombstone, shows that after warming from the “little ice age” in the late 1800s, temperatures remain relatively constant.

 

Finally we have a plot of global atmospheric temperatures as measured by satellites. These data include March, 2017 and show that global temperatures are cooling from the heat of our recent El Nino.

For some additional perspective, see 2014 was the third or sixth or 8000th warmest year The material in that article applies to this year also.