usa – “let’s abandon leadership, go backwards”


A quick summary of responses to Trump abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement.

Corporate Support for the Paris Climate Agreement

A few companies that support the Paris accords

Ford, GM, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobile, and ConocoPhillips.

Some corporations and CEOs that not only support the Paris agreement but publicly disagree with Trump’s decision

Jeff Immelt, CEO GE, Ben van Beurden, CEO Royal Dutch Shell, David MacLennan, CEO Cargill, Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorgan Chase, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs, Tim Cook, CEO Apple, Mark Zuckerberg CEO Facebook, Mark Benioff, CEO Salesforce, Sundar Pichai, GEO Google, Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX – Resigned from White House business advisory council in protest, Bob Iger, Walt Disney – Resigned from White House business advisory council in protest

HP, DuPont, Nike, UnileverAdobe, Intel, Levi, Mars – all signed a letter urging Trump to stay with the Paris agreement

Coal companies that asked Trump to stay with Paris agreement
Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy

Calculate how much of the U.S. economy is represented in the list above. It’s safe to say that these are people who make pragmatic decisions.

Economic Impact of Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement

Fastest growing occupations: #1 is wind turbine technician, #29 solar photovoltaic installers. Why are we not prioritizing clean energy jobs instead of fossil fuels?

“1.1 million Americans work in electric-power generation through traditional fossil fuels, but renewables follow closely with 880,000 employees.” And guess which one is growing? There are more jobs in solar power than in the coal industry.

“The decision means the U.S. will miss out on some the $1.4 trillion global business opportunity that the global low-carbon economy represents.”

Despite this, Trump has decided to let China and Europe take the lead in clean energy development and leave the U.S. behind in a growing industry.

Trump Continues to Spew Lies on the Topic (no surprise)

Meanwhile in the Reality-Based Universe

Every year it gets harder for denialists to find cover. You have to believe that every major climate science organization across the globe, and almost all climate scientists worldwide, are in error or engaged in a huge conspiracy to cover up the truth. There is no factual support for denialism, just an occasional op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from someone outside the field, or posts by some energy industry funded propaganda outfit. That’s pretty thin gruel. 

Oh, and you must believe that, along with U.S. corporations and science community, the 197 signing governments and 147 ratifiers of the Paris Climate Agreement are all deluded, too. Syria didn’t sign (in the middle of a war) and Nicaragua (thought it was too weak) and now the U.S. (Trump).

Incidental info: The oceans are warming, we hit temperature records each year, wildlife is moving north, etc. etc.  

It’s encouraging that individual companies, states, and cities in the U.S. are vowing to continue with climate change mitigation. Let’s act like there’s a civilization on earth. Let’s look ahead and plan.


never suppress your paradoxes


Writer and blogger Matthew Wright posted the photo below and challenged readers to write a 150-200 word story inspired by it. His post is here. My story squeaks in at 196 words, plus the title. I carefully carved away words one at time to bring it down to this svelte size.

It’s silly science fiction. I think it’s kinda lame, but there’s a wonderful outside-the-story twist. Matthew posted his prompt on February 2, and I’m responding on February 1 (different sides of the dateline, you know). Perfect for the theme of my story.

A Monument to Martha

This was Martha’s greatest creation. That says a lot, because she’d also invented the fusion incinerator and the matter blender; two conveniences that are now taken for granted, but once seemed miraculous. The newest miracle — the Reverse Temporal Vehicle.

It was just like her to put it in an art deco frame on wheels. As if the first time-displacement device wasn’t grand enough, she had to wrap the machine in elegant steel stripes and boastfully drive it.

Martha announced that she would drive backwards in time to 1931 New York City for the grand opening of another art deco classic, the Empire State Building. Before departing, she showed reporters her amazing invention, emphasizing the beautiful detailing and anti-paradox shielding.

No one knows what went wrong, but to this day we see her gorgeous machine protruding from the 23rd floor of the famous building. The rear is visible from the street. The front, where poor Martha sat, is fused with the building’s steel and limestone.

The paradox shielding had prevented her from ever learning about the silvery, wheeled outcrop in the building that mysteriously appeared in 1931. If known, it might have given her second thoughts.


birds of a cranky feather


Creationists, global warming denialists, anti-vaccine proponents – what do they have in common? They all think scientific consensus is either outright wrong or just an opinion put forth for some political or monetary reason. All three groups are motivated by ideology.

How do we know they’re motivated by ideology? Because they completely ignore equally solid scientific confirmation in areas that don’t push their buttons. You rarely hear a creationist complain about Newton’s laws of motion and want to ban teaching them in school. Not many climate change deniers write editorials trying to tear down the theory behind how bumblebees fly.

Only when a pet belief is threatened do people suddenly become experts or at least doubters regarding a field they know little about.

I’m not saying I’m immune from this sort of thing. In fact, if I was told that chocolate is really bad for me — a slow-acting poison — I would have a difficult time with it, even if the majority of biologists, nutritionists, pathologists, and so on, all converged on the same truth and published it in top peer-reviewed journals.

“You can have my choco when you pry my cold, dead fingers from the wrapper!”

“It’s a conspiracy by Big Flavor – the vanilla and strawberry marketers.”

May we all finally come around when the evidence is in our faces and not be grumpy birds.


the “woo” in woo-woo and the “sigh” in science – educational oracle cards


After a brief hiatus, the amazing spectral zoology cards are back on Amazon. Click the giraffe, please. Meanwhile the reliable Spectral Zoology home still holds all the precious information you need as well as a secondary site for ordering. Discover if, as you always suspected, the nematode is your spirit animal.


the skeptic life, part 2


I enter as evidence of my skeptic life a few things I used to believe but the facts led me elsewhere.

Echinacea. I used to think this herbal supplement helped ward off colds. Nope.

Herbal supplements. I used to think that the contents on the herbal supplement bottle reflected what was inside the bottle. Frequently not true.

Vitamins. Once upon a time I thought it was a good idea to take daily Vitamin C, multivitamin,and other supplements. Now I take only Vitamin D during Seattle’s dark winters. Vitamins aren’t that great. Better to eat good food.

Here’s one that’s under consideration … 

Full moon. I used to think the full moon somehow kept me awake at night, even when it was cloudy and not shining through a window. Then I read all the studies showing that the full moon doesn’t do anything regarding crime, auto accidents, hospital admissions, and so on. I dismissed my lunacy. As far as I know that research still holds up. However, now there is at least one carefully controlled study confirming my original suspicion about sleep. Final thought: I’m still quite skeptical, but all the evidence on sleep and the moon isn’t in yet.

I would like to present a case in point to mr. and ms. reader, regarding evidence and belief shift: 

Global warming. When I first heard about it, years ago, I had my doubts. Now, however, more than 95% percent of the entire world’s climate scientists agree it’s happening and humans are doing it and I’m a believer. This is not blind acceptance of authority. Consider two items, please. (1) The consensus did not happen by vote, or by let’s-get-more-funding. The funding ploy might work in the short-term, but over decades, the truth comes out. Reviewers try to tear apart each study and sometimes they succeed. Over the last 25 years, however, the consensus of surviving studies has gained compelling force. (2) It’s not just climate science. Evidence is rolling in from different fields, such as animal behavior/migration, and effects on plants and trees. When lines of evidence from different sciences all converge, you’re standing on pretty solid ground.

The great thing about this skepticism business.

My opinion on any of the above could be changed with good, solid evidence. This is where the rubber meets the road in skepticism. How many times have you heard the phrase “closed-minded skeptics”? If someone is truly skeptical, his or her opinion will change if given appropriate reason to do so. Meanwhile, the person who says, for example, “Astrology is true because it works for me and I know it’s true,” is exhibiting a closed and locked and thrown-away-the-key mind. Yet these are the ones who most likely will wail about close-minded skeptics.

Bring it on, world. I have a guide to help me wade through the sea of information. It’s common sense that is codified into something called rational inquiry or the Socratic method or scientific method. There are deeper questions like, “How do we know anything?”, but let’s leave that for another time. I’m just a humble blogger.

ice cream science


I held a battle of the ice creams recently. My plan was to pit four locally-produced, highly-touted ice creams against each other in a double-blinded, rigorously controlled, allegedly scientific experiment. (Followed by a chaotic free-for-all). My contestants would be Molly Moon’s, Bluebird, Full-Tilt, and Lick Pure. I would use vanilla as the baseline taste for the experiment.

In reality, there was a small problem. Full-Tilt and Lick Pure did not sell vanilla ice cream. Their flavors had to be relegated to the pig-out part of the event. So our four contenders included two grocery store brands. The result was shocking. Just avert your eyes, readers, if you don’t want to know the awful truth.

Neither our science officer nor our participants knew what brand they were getting. The nine volunteers tasted and then filled out a survey. Here’s the result:

The favorite: Fred Meyer Private Selection Double Vanilla
The runner-up: Molly Moon’s Vanilla Bean
Third best: Bluebird Vanilla Bean
Last place: Fred Meyer cheapest-I-could-find Very Vanilla

That’s right, the grocery store brand won by a fairly significant margin. Don’t blame me – below are some of the scientists.