Michael Tobis

Michael Tobis

Michael Tobis, editor-in-chief of Planet3.0 and site cofounder, has always been interested in the interface between science and public policy. He holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences where he developed a 3-D ocean model on a custom computing platform. He has been involved in sustainability conversations on the internet since 1992, has been a web software developer since 2000, and has been posting sustainability articles on the web since 2007.

Recent Articles

Nebraska Flash Flood

A flash flood enters a newly renovated hospital lobby in Kearney NE; this video was released by the hospital and has been posted to YouTube a bunch of times. The Good Samaritan Hospital Facebook post says:

While our recovery efforts from the flash flooding early Saturday morning continue on a nearly round-the-clock basis, our services for patients have all been been restored. We’re overwhelmingly grateful to each person and entity who has assisted us in this effort.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what Saturday’s conditions were like and just how seriously our facility was impacted. And to say that we’re emotional about the whole situation is a bit of an understatement. This security camera footage is just a glimpse into the series of events that unfolded Saturday. Again, we’re so relieved that no patients, staff or physicians were injured in this incident.

Enormous rain events have been widespread across the quadrant of the US north and east of Nebraska in the subsequent recent few days, including expensive disasters in Detroit, Baltimore and Long Island. This fits the pattern of increased extreme rainfall in the north central and northeastern states and central Canada.

UPDATE: Islip New York has set a single-day site precipitation record for the state of 13.27 inches, comfortably eclipsing the previous record of 11.6 inches set two years ago at Tannersville during TS Irene. Records have to be set sometime, but this is the same system that caused spectacular floods across numerous states, and that has to be unusual.

Morano is in full denial, leading with some crufty old Roger Pielke stuff from 2011.

Net Global Radiative Imbalance

Improvements in characterizing global interannual variation and trend in global heat flux.

Yes there probably is an upward trend. There is substantial uncertainty in the vertical axis offset, though it probably is warming.

And yes, El Nino years are cooling years. Does this surprise you?

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Allan, R. P., C. Liu, N. G. Loeb, M. D. Palmer, M. Roberts, D. Smith, and P.-L. Vidale (2014), Changes in global net radiative imbalance 1985–2012, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41

DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060962

Is There a Current or Imminent Global Food Shortage?

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While environmental change may crimp food production, that has little to do with current food shortages, We’re currently overproducing food crops and throwing them away on our habit of raising animal flesh in the cruelest and most efficient possible way, Globalization means that in the end, your food dollar competes with the food penny of the desperately poor. Your revealed preference in the marketplace is to eat large amounts of meat and dairy products and starve five poor people rather than to share a vegetarian meal with them. [more]

We are plagued by grumpy nostalgists — mystics on both wings who preach hostility to science & technology and yearn for the past. Our only route is forward. The answer to the problems generated by science is… more science. Open science, innovative, reciprocally critical & transparent, searching for positive sum games, able to detect potential errors. [more]

Carbon budget arguments

A slightly more complicated graph following up on the previous one showing how much carbon is left to burn, showing that even that one is unreasonably optimistic.

The curve plots a reasonable estimate of the (Bayesian) probability, given available knowledge, of staying within 2 degrees C above the preindustrial global mean surface temperature. Normally, we base our estimates on the 50% line; to have a 50/50 shot of staying under 2 C, we have used up a bit over half of our available emissions.

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As David Spratt explains, we don’t fly in an airplane with a 1 in 100,000 chance of falling out of the sky. (We have government regulations for that!) But the usual carbon budget is based on a 50% chance of staying within 2 C of warming. If we take a more, ahem, conservative approach, and stick to only a 10% chance of failure, there is no carbon budget left.

I think there are things that mitigate Spratt’s position. But we shouldn’t forget that in the limit of having perfect information about the system, there’s a something on the order of a 10% chance that we may have already passed the 2 C mark by any reasonable definition.