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7 June 2017

The epistemology of carbon atoms

I have some questions for you. You answers determine whether you’re ready to begin talking about climate policy. Do you believe that carbon atoms exist? Do you believe that carbon can bond to oxygen? Do you believe that the bonding of carbon to oxygen is an exothermic reaction? Do you believe that exothermic reactions make heat? Do you believe that heat can be used to boil water? Do you believe …

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27 April 2017

Identifying logical fallacies and scientific misdirection in a CO2 video

A quick exercise in deconstructing the argument of a “elevated CO2 is good” video on YouTube by identifying its logical fallacies. Pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn, and join us in the critique!

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8 March 2017

Q&A, episode 4

Who are “the 3%?” A reader question prompts a conversation with “Skeptical Science” guru and cognitive scientist John Cook.

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24 December 2016

A wondrous transformation

It’s bonfire season here in the Fort Valley. I live in a forest, and that forest is full of dead and downed wood. Motivated by a desire to (a) reduce forest fire risk and (b) clear out some of the area under the trees for unobstructed recreation, I gather it up and periodically burn it off in batches. We time these blazes to the weather – before or after after …

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23 November 2016

A conversation with Zack Labe

Yesterday, I mentioned climate change visualizer extraordinaire Zack Labe. As delineated then, he’s a PhD student at U.C. – Irvine in the Earth Systems Science department. He’s producing some really excellent #dataviz on climate change. Today, I’d like to share a short exchange I had with Zack about his work. 1)      Please give Mountain Beltway readers a sense of your background, leading up to what you’re working on …

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22 November 2016

We are in unprecedented territory with global sea ice

The amount of sea ice on planet Earth is much, much lower than ever recorded at this time of year. Will this anomaly turn out to be a relatively minor “weather” event? Or is this what a sea ice tipping point looks like?

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8 December 2015

Considering the Spechty Kopf diamictite

I have known for a long time about a diamictite in the latest Devonian part of the Appalachian stratigraphic sequence, since it is exposed in the lowermost part of the section (western end of the outcrop) at Sideling Hill, Maryland. When I led field trips there, I talked students through the multiple possible origins for diamictites (sedimentary rocks that are poorly sorted, with significantly “outsized” clasts “floating” in a finer-grained …

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9 November 2015

The final days of sub-400 ppm carbon dioxide

This is probably the last week our planet’s atmosphere will have less than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. When are we going to stop letting this heat-trapping waste gas pile up in our home?

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6 January 2014

Stop conflating weather and climate

Please. Please. Please. Please stop conflating weather and climate. It is cold today, yes, and that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t influence any scientific conclusion about climate change, one way or the other. Today’s cold temperatures are a weather event. It’s distinctive, but short-lived. Climate is a long-term trend: many years of weather events. It’s not something you can point to on a single day, and say “ha!” Climate …

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22 October 2013

Atlantic, by Simon Winchester

I finished Simon Winchester’s book Atlantic the other day. I consumed the audiobook version (this is one major positive aspect to my long commute: plenty of listening time), which was pleasantly read by Winchester himself. He’s got a good accent and a nice way of speaking – I recommend that medium. Atlantic is a book about the Atlantic Ocean. It’s set up to cover the vast sweep of Atlantic history, …

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