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

A Recent Comment About Lost Pines

Andy S said…

I believe the loblolly pine forest is a good indicator of long-term climate trends. They and their long tap roots are sensitive to long term soil moisture levels. The lost pines of Bastrop are there because it’s an island of sandy soil that is permissive so that more of the region’s rainfall is available for tree growth versus becoming surface runoff. [more]

Foley says the same thing twice

My classmate Jon Foley has an interesting presentation, and it’s mostly true and important, so admittedly everything actually should be said at least twice.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJhgGbRA6Hk&w=560&h=345]

So he does.

I wonder about the presentation. Which is more effective, the twelve minute talk with images or the four minute screed-toon without much evidence. [more]

Editor Apologizes for Spencer Paper, Resigns

BREAKING

Journal editor says Spencer paper arguing low climate sensitivity should not have passed peer review, resigns.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. [more]

Burden of Proof

One delayer tactic is to demand “proof” of “global warming” before advocating “hugely expensive actions”. (*)

This comes down to “burden of proof” arguments. Much though we might wish people understood Bayesian reasoning better, it appears that people are primed to a sort of naive absolutism by the legal system:

I was mugged once some years ago and was called in for a line up. [more]

The Alleged Non-Limits to Growth

We presume as given that the energy consumption of the world must reach a finite limit, and consider whether the economy can maintain the imperative for growth. Prominent blogger Matt Yglesias comes up with some feeble handwaving that says it can. Yglesias is wrong.

Physics Prof Tom Murphy puts the endless growth conundrum through its paces and ends up in familiar places. [more]

The Truth About the Truth About Greenhouse Gases

REVISED

I’ve been asked to comment on William Happer’s “The Truth about Greenhouse Gases“, and finding no competent discussion of it anywhere on the first three pages of hits have agreed to take it on.

To give you an idea of the tenor of the document, it starts off modestly, like this:

“The object of the Author in the following pages has been to collect the

most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been

excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to

show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and

gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes,” wrote Charles

Mackay in the preface to the first edition of his Extraordinary Popular

Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. [more]

A concern

Quoth NOAA:

MORE SO THAN WITH MOST STORMS…THE WINDS WITH IRENE INCREASE

SHARPLY WITH HEIGHT ABOVE THE SURFACE. AS IRENE MOVES THROUGH

AREAS WITH HIGH-RISE STRUCTURES…THESE BUILDINGS COULD EXPERIENCE

WINDS SIGNIFICANTLY STRONGER THAN THE SURFACE WINDS. WINDS AT THE

30-STORY LEVEL WILL LIKELY BE 20 PERCENT HIGHER THAN AT THE SURFACE

…AND WINDS 80-100 STORIES UP COULD BE ABOUT 30 PERCENT HIGHER

THAN AT THE SURFACE. [more]

Thanks to Joe Romm

Thanks to Joe Romm for displaying my schematic of the distribution of informed opinion from the podium at the Schneider symposium during his excellent (scary) talk.

I can’t repay the favor in any comparable proportion but let me at least display my favorite slide from his talk.

We need to talk about what the infamous “deficit model” means. [more]

Uncertainty, Uncertainty, Uncertainty

It’s peculiar that Judith Curry is criticizing the IPCC and climate community for understressing uncertainty. It’s something one can imagine from the Wattses and McIntyres with their narrow focus on data, but it’s incomprehensible from a member of the community.

It’s hard to avoid this thought popping up as I watch the Schneider Symposium; probably over half the speakers have talked at length about uncertainty, and how to treat it in interfacing with the public and the policy sector. [more]