Yellowstone’s supervolcano – worse than we thought

Yellowstone’s supervolcano – worse than we thought“. This is how Anthony Watts smears a paper-thin crust of science on his blog: he pastes in a random general science press release. In this case, a University of Utah study has provided a more detailed geophysical image of the volcanic hotspot beneath Yellowstone National Park, which seems bigger and potentially more deadly than previously thought.

Quoth the press release:

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves.

The Yellowstone volcanic plume. New image on the left. Photo Credit: The University of Utah.

Hey, science! At the moment it’s effectively quiescent, but the theoretical consequences are no further away than a Discovery Channel dramatization. To further quote the University of Utah:

The hotspot finally reached Yellowstone about 2 million years ago, yielding three huge caldera eruptions about 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago. Two of the eruptions blanketed half of North America with volcanic ash, producing 2,500 times and 1,000 times more ash, respectively, than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Smaller eruptions occurred at Yellowstone in between the big blasts and as recently as 70,000 years ago.

This particular copy-and-paste implicitly stokes the denialist meme that humans are too puny to have any impact on our climate. If that volcano goes off then switching to wind power will have been a meaningless effort. All that fussing would seem pretty foolish if something like that happened, so why bother?

Just don’t consider the curious fact that the regular and ongoing impact humanity is having on our environment is probably on the same scale as these kinds of improbable freak catastrophes denialists tell us we should really be worrying about.

NSF grants $700,000 for theater production on climate change

NSF grants $700,000 for theater production on climate change. Tax money wasted on art? Outrageous. And on a topical subject that might accidentally trigger thinking? Art should distract, not stimulate, right Anthony? The New York Times has the whole awful story.

What was the National Science Foundation thinking? They’re “a federal agency that pays for science, engineering and mathematics research and education”! Oh. Education.

Anthony also reminds his readers that the IPCC Chair, Dr. Pachauri , wrote a novel. And he has long hair. Contemptible.

Admission of unfair dealings by DEC to the Thompsons

Admission of unfair dealings by DEC to the Thompsons. The “tragic” Thompson family feed-lot saga in Australia continues; the Department of Environment and Conservation heavies may have blinked! But is it “governmental abuse”, or are the Thompsons being held up as martyrs because they expressed denialist sentiments and drew the wrath of intolerant environmentalists?

Maybe that’s why Anthony Watts is taking such an interest, it’s a two-fer! Oppressive government (by the way Australia’s “Liberal” parties are an analog for America’s Republicans, so you might want to re-think some of the invective) and fascist environmentalists! Delicious.

Well, they’re both the final nail in the coffin for AGW, right?

New discovery may lead to a malaria vaccine

New discovery may lead to a malaria vaccine. This will make Indur Goklany happy, because malaria is what we should really be focussed on, right? Anthony Watts got so worked up on that comment thread that he banned a critic that he’s still trying to argue around.

Why did Anthony and so many of his commenters feel the need to co-opt Rachael Carson? The comments in this post still talk about “the lies of Rachael Carson”, claim that Carson was “a Malthusian” and continue to compare her to Hitler. Was she Al Gore’s mother? Hilarious.

So Australian scientists have identified how the malaria parasite to attach to and enter red blood cells. Excellent development, but it doesn’t change the fact that Anthony and Indur have enthusiastically milked the distraction of malaria and DDT use for their own ideological purposes.

Sorry, no get out of jail free card for you Anthony. Way too much recidivism.

Wasted Opportunities

Wasted Opportunities. Thomas Fuller steps up to the plate for Anthony Watts again. He thinks it’s a shame that so much effort has gone into renewable energy sources: solar, wind and biofuels (no love for hydro or tidal?). We should be using cogeneration! Ah, if only we all lived beside a power plant.

Oh, wait, we are using cogeneration! 7% of energy in the US, even more in some Scandinavian countries. So, Thomas’ point is what exactly? Use more somehow? He also claims cogeneration “gets little attention from environmentalists”, but doesn’t really put much effort into the accusation. This post is just Fuller filler.

An update on the plight of the Thompsons

An update on the plight of the Thompsons. Oh, the plight! The comedy of Anthony Watts’ sudden burning interest in an Australian farmer’s family continues. Why, oh why is there “no help from the usual [alarmist] suspects and their flocks”? (Oops, there goes “the high ground.” Again.) Are Anthony and his denialist friends the only people who care about ordinary people? Umm, perhaps its time for Anthony to come clean and admit that his topics and motivations are entirely political.

Maybe things aren’t going too well on the denialist front in spite of Anthony’s ever-louder declarations that victory is near. His much-loved Viscount Monckton has been rather brutally revealed as a dishonest buffoon, the deluded Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s harassment of climate scientists has been laughed out of court, the cherished Wegman Report has been dissected and shown to be puffed up nonsense full of incompetent plagiarism, misrepresentation and even old-fashioned padding. This little tempest is a good distraction.

Frankly, I have some sympathy for the “honest hardworking” Thompson family (that link’s a kook factory) but no opinion on the core issue of farming regulations. The fact that they have been taken up with such vigor by fanatical strangers is a pretty dodgy sign though. Tough luck, apparently, for the millions living in, say, Bangladesh. Wrong color? Wrong politics? Wrong religion?

Igor cool ocean

Igor cool ocean. Anthony Watts notes that hurricanes “do a splendid job of cooling the ocean surface over which they travel.” He even trusts some nasty NASA computer climate models to explain it. Thus ending Global Warming!

How does he does manage to ignore the more relevant discussion of whether increasing numbers and intensity of cyclones are a symptom of Global Warming? Here are a few random notes on the subject: