Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 16: Severe Storms New England (record spring for allergy sufferers)

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems." - Rainer Maria Rilke

"The last time researchers saw a storm like that was May 6th, 1965 when twisters swept across the metro. Thirteen people died, hundreds were left injured. Blumenfeld says research shows storms like that happen every 40 to 50 years. "We really haven't had one like that in over 50 years almost. It means it's probably going to happen sooner rather than later," he said."- from a KARE 11 special pondering the probabilities of a major tornado hitting the Twin Cities; details below.

"As one of its major goals within the 10 years, the hurricane center hopes to generate six- and seven-day forecasts to give residents, businesses and the military more time to prepare....Currently, the center issues track forecasts out to five days, with an average error of about 275 miles." - from a story at staugustine.com; details below.

"From February through April, pollen was at record high levels. This coincided with one of the driest and warmest winters on record." - from a story at NJ.com - details below the 7-Day.

"Scientists say climate change might also be adding an extra kick to La Nina and El Nino because warmer oceans add more fuel to storms and weather patterns." - from a Reuters article below.

Critics are our friends, they show us our faults.” - Benjamin Franklin

Frosty Relapse. A Frost Advisory is posted early this morning as close to the metro as Hinckley and Hayward - a little close for comfort. Details from the Twin Cities office of The National Weather Service:






Frost on a Wednesday - 90 on a Friday. Don't like the weather? Stick around a few minutes; it'll change. A few models are hinting at 90 in the metro Friday. If the sun stays out much of the day we should see upper 80s, possibly 90 - in all probability the warmest day of 2012 so far.

Storm-Ready. Is The Twin Cities Prepared For A Major Tornado? The short answer is no, but I'm glad KARE 11 is running this series, trying to break through a wall of apathy and skepticism. "Tornadoes always hit somewhere else....we never get hit....stop hyping the weather and interrupting my favorite TV show!" We get this a lot. One of these days an EF-4 is going to hit the suburbs, or even the downtowns, and the results could be catastrophic. More from KARE-11: "GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The images of tornadoes twisting and turning, leaving devastation in their wake can be jaw-dropping. From semi-trailers tossed like toys in Dallas, Texas earlier this year, to total destruction in Joplin, Missouri last year. That is why KARE 11 teamed up with Minnesota Public Radio News to find out if the Twin Cities is storm ready.  Our meteorologists Belinda Jensen and MPR's Paul Huttner put together a simulation of a major tornado hitting Minneapolis."
"The reality is if you put a large tornado over a populated area, people are going to get hurt," said Ken Blumenfeld, University of Minnesota geography professor and tornado researcher.

Pagami Creek Wildfire Burn Zone Showing Signs Of New Life. Drought conditions are worst over far northern Minnesota, just about the only part of Minnesota that didn't see heavy rain 10 days ago. WDIO.com in Duluth reports on growing concerns about the Pagami Creek blaze rekindling: "Images of burning trees and billowing smoke had most of us in awe, as the Pagami Creek Wildfire ravaged the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness last fall. It took just a matter of hours for the small, monitored fire to grow out of control. But now, with the fire out, you can see the damage up close, and the first signs of a healing forest. The damage is everywhere. Black, charred bark covers weak and often toppled trees. Those that still stand look nothing like they used to. Needles used to cover red and jack pine, and birch trees were wrapped with white bark. But it's all destroyed now."

First Tropical Storm of 2012: "Aletta". A threat to ships and slow-moving whales, T.S. Aletta is pushing west, out into the colder waters of the Pacific Ocean, where it should slowly weaken - no threat to land. More from NASA's Facebook site: "The eastern Pacific hurricane season starts today. Just slightly ahead of schedule tropical storm Aletta formed yesterday well to the southwest of the Mexican coast. Aletta will intensify a little more to 40 knots. After tomorrow, adverse atmospheric conditions will prompt weakening and dissipation as the cyclone continues to move just north of west. Max winds are near 35 knots, it is centered near 10.6 North and 109.6 West."

* image above: Naval Research Lab.

Wednesday Severe Threat. An eastbound cool front may spark enough convergence for a few severe storms from Albany to Worcester, Burlington and Montpelier, Vermont. Map: SPC.

A "Plan B Weekend?" It's still early and the forecast may change (for the better), but we've had a few days/row of fairly gloomy model outlooks. A slow-moving cool front may spark heavy showers and T-storms from the PM hours Saturday into the first half of Sunday; models hinting at some 1 to 1.5" rainfall amounts.

Another Sloppy Nail In The Weekend Coffin. I don't think we'll see a steady rain, or an all-day washout. Precipitation should be convective, showery, with embedded heavy showers and T-storms late Saturday into a portion of Sunday. The latest ECMWF model predicts 19 mm. of rain Saturday and Sunday, about .75" rain.

"Hammock Weather." Thanks, I needed this. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick was kind enough to navigate his iPhone and send in this photo from his favorite hammock out in Cologne yesterday. Go easy Bryan.

Minnehaha Falls. Thanks to Siah C. for showing us a reassuring amount of water coming over the falls as of May 15, 2012.

Why Do El Nino And La Nina Trigger Weather Chaos? Reuters has an informative article; here's an excerpt: "From record floods to crippling droughts and wildfires, a natural swing in Pacific Ocean temperatures can trigger climate chaos around the globe. The El Nino ocean-weather pattern is linked to droughts in Australia and floods in parts of South America, while its sibling La Nina causes the opposite, with the two phenomena occurring at irregular intervals. A powerful La Nina triggered record floods in eastern Australia in 2011 and has been blamed for the withering drought in Texas and severe dry spells in South America, hitting corn and soy crops."

DC3: Chemistry of Thunderstorms. Flying planes into thunderstorms to gather more data? I suspect drinks are not served on these flights; here's an excerpt of an eye-opening article at redorbit.com: "NASA researchers are about to fly off on a campaign that will take them into the heart of thunderstorm country. The Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field campaign will use an airport in Salina, Kan., as a base to explore the impact of large thunderstorms on the concentration of ozone and other substances in the upper troposphere. The campaign is being led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. “Thunderstorms provide a mechanism for rapid lifting of air from the surface to higher altitudes in a matter of minutes to hours,” said James Crawford of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and a member of the mission’s scientific steering committee."

Photo credit above: "NASA's DC-8 Earth Science laboratory sports numerous probes for collecting atmospheric samples. The aircraft, based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., is ready to participate in the DC3 campaign. Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida."

NASA researchers are about to fly off on a campaign that will take them into the heart of thunderstorm country.
The Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field campaign will use an airport in Salina, Kan., as a base to explore the impact of large thunderstorms on the concentration of ozone and other substances in the upper troposphere. The campaign is being led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA.
“Thunderstorms provide a mechanism for rapid lifting of air from the surface to higher altitudes in a matter of minutes to hours,” said James Crawford of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and a member of the mission’s scientific steering committee.
“This allows molecules that are short-lived and more abundant near the surface to be transported to the upper troposphere in amounts that could not happen under normal atmospheric conditions,” he said.
Hurricane Center To Develop 6 And 7 Day Forecasts. Details from staugustine.com: "FORT LAUDERDALE — For the first time, the National Hurricane Center plans to develop six- and seven-day track forecasts for an entire storm season. It also plans to do a better job keeping them secret, as they leaked out to the public last year, cutting the experiment short. “We weren’t able to button them up; people were finding them,” said James Franklin, the center’s top hurricane specialist. The long-range forecasts are one of four in-house experiments the hurricane center plans to conduct in the upcoming season, which officially starts June 1."

Hurricane Center Testing Forecast Improvements. Here's another perspective from The Boston Herald: "MIAMI -- The National Hurricane Center plans to broaden its forecasting capabilities by conducting four in-house experiments in the upcoming season, including developing six- and seven-day track projections. The other tests include extending the tropical weather outlook from two to five days, developing advisories for disturbances before they become tropical systems and issuing watches and warnings if disturbances threaten land. At the same time, it will employ more sophisticated models to help with intensity predictions, an area where forecasters have struggled for decades."

"Lessons From Hurricane Ike Prompts Action". The story (and video clip) from phys.org: "As teachers go, Hurricane Ike isn't likely to win any popularity contests. But the 2008 storm, the third-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, taught severe-storm experts much about how to protect Houston and Galveston from the ravages of future storms. In the new book "Lessons from Hurricane Ike," Rice University severe-storm expert Phil Bedient and more than 20 researchers from the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center give a 194-page accounting of all they have learned in more than two years of studying Ike, which caused nearly $25 billion damage and killed dozens."

U.S. Government, Wireless Carriers, Launch Weather Emergency Alerts This Month. Text alerts should be part of your family's severe weather action plan, along with TV, radio, web, e-mail, NOAA Weather Radio (and sirens). Details from mobileburn.com: "The U.S. Government and wireless carriers in the States are set to launch the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system this month. The WEA is a free service that uses text message alerts to inform cellular phone users of nearby weather emergencies. The alerts will warn users of weather emergencies and dangerous weather conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, typhoons, blizzards, dust storms, extremely high winds, and ice storms. The system is location based, so users will only get alerts that apply to where they are currently located. The WEA system is supported by AT&T, Cellcom, Cricket, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, which combined offer cellular service to about 97 percent of the users in the United States."

Exposure To Natural Cold and Heat: Hypothermia and Hyperthermia Medicare Claims, 2004-2005. With a rapidly aging population, more baby boomers moving into their "golden years", I found this research paper at medscape.com interesting. Here's an excerpt:  "Older adults (≥ 65 years) and persons with chronic diseases are at risk for heat- and coldrelated mortality and morbidity during extreme ambient temperatures. Even slight changes in temperature can adversely affect these populations because of their weakened physiological adaptability and socioeconomic factors. As the growing evidence of global climate change supports anticipated increases in the intensity and frequency of heat waves and extreme cold events, older adults and those with chronic diseases will be at an increased risk for hyperthermia and hypothermia. The US Census Bureau projects that the number of older adults will rapidly increase during the 2010 to 2030 period. Accordingly, it is projected that by 2030, the older population will be 2 times greater than in 2000, growing from 35 million to 72 million, or nearly 20% of the total US population."

Data App: Track Texas Reservoir Levels. Although the drought has eased a bit over parts of Texas, water levels are still very low, especially from the Hill Country into the Texas Panhandle. The Texas Tribune has details of a new online resource for tracking reservoir water levels: "The most intense drought in Texas history lowered reservoir levels around the state, stirring widespread concern about water shortages. By April 2012 many had bounced back, particularly in Central and East Texas, after those areas saw an unusually rainy spring. But many West Texas levels remain very low. Using data collected from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, we have built a tool that visualizes the current levels of the state's reservoirs. The map will be updated daily with fresh data. Each icon on the map represents an individual reservoir, color-coded based on how full it is currently."

Postcard-Perfect. Here's a post from Glacier National Park, brought to you by Mark Zuckerberg. Hey, is Facebook going public? Here's a hot tip: buy low, sell high. Good luck. "It is turning out to be another spectacular day in Glacier, and Avalanche Gorge never looked so good. At this location on the Trail of the Cedars, you can witness the power of water. From its sculpting and erosional action, to the nourishment it provides to plants and animals, and the emotional impact it has on us, water is very significant here."

World's Most Expensive Camera Sells At Auction For $2.77 Million. Some people have more money than sense, as reported by gizmag.com: "The Viennese WestLicht Photographica Auction House continued its stellar run of success with its 21st Camera auction in just its eleventh year as an auction house, when it recently broke its own world record for the fifth consecutive time by selling one of the original Leica 0-series cameras for €2,160,000 (US$2.77 million), including the buyer’s premium."

Get Rich U. Author Ken Auletta writes "there are no walls between Stanford and Silicon Valley. Should there be? Here is an excerpt of a thought-provoking article at The New Yorker: "Stanford University is so startlingly paradisial, so fragrant and sunny, it’s as if you could eat from the trees and live happily forever. Students ride their bikes through manicured quads, past blooming flowers and statues by Rodin, to buildings named for benefactors like Gates, Hewlett, and Packard. Everyone seems happy, though there is a well-known phenomenon called the “Stanford duck syndrome”: students seem cheerful, but all the while they are furiously paddling their legs to stay afloat. What they are generally paddling toward are careers of the sort that could get their names on those buildings. The campus has its jocks, stoners, and poets, but what it is famous for are budding entrepreneurs, engineers, and computer aces hoping to make their fortune in one crevasse or another of Silicon Valley.

Photo credit above: "Students at the Institute of Design at Stanford, or d.school, work this spring on an irrigation project for farmers in Burma. The work is part of the university’s focus on interdisciplinary education. Photograph by Aaron Huey."
"Sturgeon Weather". Thanks to Joe Buckley, for sending in this shot from Ottertaill Lake in western MN. He caught this 25 lb. sturgeon. Well done! Read more about sturgeon HERE.

Words To Live By. Better yet, avoid camels altogether.

Postcard-Worthy Sunset. Thanks to Steve Burns who lives in Lino Lakes for one of the best photos I've seen in recent weeks. What a weather pattern...

Weather Personalities

It was David Letterman who coined the phrase "hail the size of canned hams" while doing TV weather in Indianapolis back in the 70s. Pat Sajak and ABC News legend Diane Sawyer also got their start pointing to a (green) weather map.

Visitors touring our studios are always surprised by the spontaneity, the ad-libbing that goes on. "Where are the Teleprompters?" The reality: meteorologists wing it. They study the maps, arm themselves with a few factoids, and then make it up as they go.

I used to remind Don Shelby that a trained monkey could be taught to "read the news". No comment.
Today will be another atmospheric daydream, the day you were wishing for back in February.
A surge of sticky, 80-degree air may set off a few Thursday storms (best chance north of the metro). Highs surge near 90 Friday, 80s on Saturday - a summerlike dew point near 65 F. Yes, neighbors will be whining about the humidity within 48 hours.

A cool front surging east may spark 1-2" rain late Saturday Sunday. We can't rule out a few strong/severe storms late Saturday. Stay alert. Your best odds salvaging warm, dry, sunglasses-worthy weekend weather? First half of Saturday.

I'm just the messenger.

* Letterman Photo above courtesy of MNN, Mother Nature Network, which has an excellent article on other "personalities" and stars who started out in weather.

"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river." - Ross Perot

Climate Stories...

As Global Warming Advances, Risky Responses Gain A Following. Here's an important article focused on geo-engineering, using technology to slow or reverse the effects of global warming. Good idea? What could possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt from MinnPost.com: "A British chemical engineer, Peter Davidson, presented a webinar early this morning on his strategy to combat global warming: Fog Earth’s upper atmosphere with paint particles, streamed from giant balloons, to reflect sunlight away from Earth and offset the greenhouse effects of burning fossil fuel. Plan B, indeed. As the years roll by with essentially no meaningful progress on cutting carbon emissions, “geo-engineering” solutions like Davidson’s attract more attention and perhaps even faith from those inclined to believe that since technology got us into this mess, technology can somehow get us out."

Photo credit above: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. "A new paper proposes using large balloons to scatter sunlight and slow global warming."

Climate Change Is Making Allergies Worse. NJ.com has the story; here's an excerpt: "Spring is in full swing and swung into New Jersey earlier than ever this year. Extreme weather events and drastic changes in weather patterns are becoming a common occurrence. The effects of climate disruption on human health already are afflicting allergy and asthma sufferers along the East Coast and throughout the continental United States. May is “Asthma Awareness Month” and this spring’s pollen levels are making history. Unseasonably warm temperatures affect both air quality and pollen levels."

Photo credit above: "Airborne ragweed pollen is pictured in this file photo."

Global Warming To Affect Fish Guts. Oh no - not fish guts! There may be aquatic winners and losers as lake, river and ocean water temperatures continue to rise, as reported in this excerpt of a story at New Zealand's 3news.com: "Global warming may cause some stocks of fish species to decline, while others may grow. The gastrointestinal system of fish is much more sensitive to rises in sea temperatures than previously thought, according to new research. The researchers found that the gut in fish is the most temperature-sensitive organ. "Our work is largely about trying to identify the physiological bottlenecks, in other words which parts of the body will fail first - whether the heart or the gut is the most sensitive part of the system," said study researcher Albin Gräns, of the University of Gothenburg, in a statement."

Climate Change In The American Mind: March, 2012. Here's an excerpt from some recent polling conducted by The National Center For Science Education: "... Asked about the cause of global warming, on the assumption that it is happening, 46% of respondents said that global warming is caused mostly by human activities — a slight decrease — while 37% said that it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment, 9% volunteered that it is caused by both human activities and natural changes, 5% opted for "none of the above because global warming isn't happening," 2% offered other views, and 1% volunteered that they did not know."

Oil And Gas Industry Moving Aggressively To Silence Critics. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Huffington Post: "At an industry public relations conference last year, Michael Kehs of Chesapeake Energy described a Wall Street Journal op-ed to gathered oil and gas officials, saying it pointed out the industry's "credibility problem." “And I’m sure some of it relates to defensiveness,” Kehs added. (MP3 Audio)  Small wonder. For years, the oil and gas industry has adopted a war-like mentality towards its critics. When confronted with problems caused by drilling and fracking, instead of acknowledging them and working to prevent more, their approach has too often been to cover up the issues while attacking any critics who make problems known publicly. This pattern has sharply accelerated in recent months."

New Push To Limit "Super Greenhouse" Gases. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman from Climate Central has the story; here's an excerpt: "United Nations climate change talks may be on a slow train to nowhere, but that doesn't mean countries can't try tackling global warming at the international level. Friday, the Federated States of Micronesia, a Pacific island nation, submitted a plan to amend the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer to phase down the production and use of so-called "super-greenhouse gases." The Micronesian proposal, which has garnered the support of more than 100 parties to the ozone treaty, including the U.S. and the European Union, seeks to cut emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, and fluorine. These substances are used as solvents, refrigerants, firefighting agents, and propellants. They were introduced as a substitute for the chloroflourocarbons, or CFCs, that scientists discovered were destroying the Earth's protective ozone layer — thereby allowing greater amounts of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet rays to reach the Earth's surface."

Photo credit above: "The Antarctic ozone hole as depicted by NASA satellite sensors in 2004. Credit: NASA."

Wind-Generated Energy Is Working Well For Us In Iowa. Here's an excerpt of a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal from Iowa Governor Branstad: "Your recent editorials on the federal wind-energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and renewable portfolio standard (RPS) ("Gouged by the Wind," May 5 and "Windy Republicans," May 7) are off the mark. The wind-power industry is an American success story that is helping us build our manufacturing base, create jobs, lower energy costs and strengthen our energy security. As a country, we should support energy diversity and development of all domestic resources, creating an "all of the above" energy strategy. To that end, our state and national energy plans have long relied on varying policies and incentives, such as the PTC and RPS, to deploy technologies that ensure a diverse domestic energy fleet.Iowa has long played a leadership role in developing wind power—a clean, domestic, affordable resource. During my first term as governor, I signed the first RPS in the country, and it continues to drive billions in private investment in Iowa, as well as helping electric consumers."

Americans Would Pay More For Clean Energy. Would Congress? Here's a snippet from The Washington Post: "Would Americans be willing to pay more for cleaner electricity? A new study finds that they would — $162 a year extra, on average. But there’s a catch: This “willingness to pay” isn’t evenly spread across the country, which may explain why Congress isn’t eager to pass a clean-electricity bill. Last year, a trio of researchers from Yale and Harvard conducted a national survey asking Americans a very simple question: Would they be interested in a law that required utilities to get 80 percent of their electricity from low-carbon sources such as wind, solar and nuclear by 2035? Different respondents were given different descriptions of the bill and different price tags. (After all, low-carbon energy often costs more.) The results were recently published in Nature Climate Change. And, on average, $162 a year extra was the breaking point. That’s what Americans would pay."
Photo credit above: "Would you pay $162 for this? (Paul Sakuma - AP)."

Hawaii's Beaches Are In Retreat, And Way Of Life May Follow. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "Little by little, Hawaii’s iconic beaches are disappearing. Most beaches on the state’s three largest islands are eroding, and the erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the United States Geological Survey is reporting. Though average erosion rates are relatively low — perhaps a few inches per year — they range up to several feet per year and are highly variable from island to island and within each island, agency scientists say. The report says that over the last century, about 9 percent of the sandy coast on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu and Maui has vanished. That’s almost 14 miles of beach."

Photo credit above: Hawaii from space courtesy of universetoday.com.

Inhofe Staffer Asks Oil Lobbyist "Partners" For "Better Coordination and Communication". Think Progress has the story: "Republicans are the default choice for oil and gas dollars, having received 88 percent of the industry’s political contributions in 2011. In return, House and Senate Republicans block regulations the industry deems a potential threat. In an April 23 e-mail acquired by National Journal, a staffer for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called on the industry to utilize their partnership to coordinate attacks on the White House: Senate Republicans, who led a successful fight this spring against Obama’s proposal to repeal billions of dollars in tax subsidies enjoyed by major oil companies, felt betrayed by the industry’s collaboration with the White House on fracking regulations."

Earth's Environment Getting Worse, Not Better, Ahead of Rio+ 20. The Guardian has the story - here's a clip: "Twenty years on from the Rio Earth summit, the environment of the planet is getting worse not better, according to a report from WWF. Swelling population, mass migration to cities, increasing energy use and soaring carbon dioxide emissions mean humanity is putting a greater squeeze on the planet's resources then ever before. Particularly hard hit is the diversity of animals and plants, upon which many natural resources such as clean water are based. "The Rio+20 conference next month is an opportunity for the world to get serious about the need for development to become sustainable. Our report indicates that we haven't yet done that since the last Rio summit," said David Nussbaum, WWF-UK chief executive."

Running From Climate Change May Trip Up Some Species, Study Says. Here's an excerpt from The Boston Herald: "As climate change transforms their habitat, some animals are already on the move. But a new analysis from the University of Washington warns that many species won’t be able to run fast enough to survive a warming world. On average, about 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals migrate too slowly to keep pace with the rapid climate shifts expected over the next century, says the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In some areas, including parts of the Appalachian Mountains and the Amazon basin, nearly 40 percent of mammals may be unable to reach safe haven in time."

Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Recorded In Octopus DNA. Here's a fascinating story from Scientific American: "Octopuses have made themselves at home in most of the world’s oceans—from the warmest of tropical seas to the deep, dark reaches around hydrothermal vents. Antarctic species, such as Turquet’s octopuses (Pareledone turqueti), even live slow, quiet lives near the South Pole. But these retiring creatures offer a rare opportunity to help understand how this extreme part of the Earth has changed in recent geologic times—and what climate change might bring there in the near future."

Chance Of Bangladesh Sinking Under Rising Sea Levels. Here's an Op Ed from The Financial Express: "Science as a Contact Sport; inside the battle to save Earth's climate" by Stephen Schneider is an illuminating book by a world renowned climate scientist and professor at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. In 2007, Schneider received the Nobel Peace Price on behalf of the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), along with Al Gore. His book is a recounting of his efforts over three decades to get the US government and the rest of the world to pay attention to climate change science. The basic question which climate science has tried to answer is: how serious is climate change? But communicating a scientific answer to this question has been impossible, Schneider says, as politicians, journalists and the average person on the street does not understand that scientific predictions and models of climate change can only predict probabilities of particular outcomes." Photo above: NASA.

Climate Change Believers Split From Heartland Institute. An update from slate.com: "On Friday, the libertarian, Chicago-based Heartland Institute made a routine-sounding announcement. It would "spin off its insurance research project effective May 31." The D.C.-based Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate would break off; its director, Eli Lehrer, would found some new project. "We urge any individual, foundation, and corporation with an interest in insurance and related finance issues to contribute to Eli’s new organization once it is up and running," said Heartland President Joseph Bast in a statement. "We look forward to working closely with Eli in the future." Today, the spin-off -- dubbed the R Street Institute -- sent out a statement from its spokesman, R.J. Lehmann. Most of it was boilerplate about how the team of six Heartland refugees would keep working on "much the same portfolio of issues we already have been."

On Climate Change, A Need For A Realistic Plan. Here's a snippet from an Op Ed at The Montreal Gazette: "Despite sustained misgivings within party and caucus ranks, the federal Conservative government has, however reluctantly, come around to acknowledging that human-generated greenhouse gases are a driving factor in global climate change that is becoming increasingly evident and undeniable. What is still lacking, however, is a comprehensive approach to the problem and adequate information to educate the Canadian public as to the scope of the effort required to cut those emissions to sustainable levels, and the costs involved. These failings were cast into sharp relief by this month’s report by the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainability, which challenged the government’s assurances that it has an effective climate-change plan in place with an achievable target for greenhouse-gas reduction."