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Climate Discussion with Climate Scientist Jennifer Francis

October 30, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments
climate discussion

Rapid Arctic Warming and Extreme Weather Events in Mid-Latitudes: Are They Connected?

Wednesday – November 6, 2013
Music and Refreshments start at 6:00 p.m. – Program begins at 7:00 p.m.
Music by Tara Linhardt and Buddy Dunlap
Hosted by REHAU
1501 Edwards Ferry Road, NE, Leesburg, VA

Featured speaker: Jennifer Francis, PhD

“Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall. This has led to an increase in near-surface, autumn air temperatures of two to five degrees C (3.6 to nine degrees F) over much of the Arctic Ocean during the past decade. All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale. And there are growing indications that some weather phenomena in recent years — such as prolonged cold spells in Europe, heavy snows in the northeastern U.S. and Alaska, and heat waves in Russia — may be related to Arctic amplification.” Jennifer Francis [1] … Continue Reading

Sustainable Loudoun’s Energy and Economic Forum

October 16, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments
energy summit

“I made a mistake.” FED Chair Alan Greenspan in testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession …We have sort of become a nation of whiners” John McCain’s economic advisor, and former senator Phil Gramm in an interview with the Washington Times, July 9, 2008, eight months after the recession officially began.

“As of 2011 there is no clear agreement of what kind of economics works and what does not.” Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard, “Energy and the Wealth of Nations”.

“We often underestimate how much uncertainty there is in terms of our understanding of the economy. If you pretend that we know more than we do, you are in danger of constructing policies that can be counter-productive.” 2013 Economics Nobel Prize winner, Lars Peter Hansen [1]. … Continue Reading

Time to Pretend

October 6, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“Burning all fossil fuels, we conclude, would make most of the planet uninhabitable by Humans.” James Hansen et al. [1]

In the epigraph, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Jim Hansen and his co-authors point out quite explicitly that if we burn all available fossil fuels we may go extinct. There will be no place to live and grow food. There is disagreement. The climate scientist Richard Alley said in a recent lecture that only “parts” of the planet might be uninhabitable [2]. While there is some uncertainty as to how much fossil fuels are really accessible, burning fossil fuels is not the only misbehavior in which humans are engaged and therefore whatever is left after parts or most may not be habitable for any number of other reasons.

Just this week in the latest issue of EOS [3], published by the American Geophysical Union, there is a news article on the Chesapeake Bay dead zone reminding us that most of this estuary is either hypoxic (low-oxygen condition) or anoxic (a near total depletion of oxygen). This is peripherally associated with global warming in that the chemicals we use on our farms which pollute the bay have a fossil fuel origin. Such conditions are leading to the displacement of complex fish ecosystems by jellyfish. This is also associated with overfishing.

On Thursday October 3, 2013, Scientists from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) published their State of the Oceans report [10]. The report states “We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun.”

In the latest issue of Nature [4], containing a special section on the state of agriculture, we are reminded that we are pulling down our aquifers by a few inches a year. California’s Central Valley will run dry in 60 to 100 years. This is also happening in India and the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin as well as Australia. This is due to over irrigation but also climate-change caused droughts. The same issue of Nature informs us that “The threat of insects to agriculture is set to increase as the planet warms.” So even if we want to pretend that Hansen is exaggerating the impact of human-caused global warming, his analysis still only considers a part of the problems we are creating.

Obviously, there is a rather large disconnect between what our science is telling us is true or at least certainly possible and what most Americans believe. Most Americans are in denial, or maybe we accept that some serious consequences are possible at some distance in the future, or maybe we are confused or completely unaware. Many of us are pretending that there cannot be a problem since the free market isn’t solving it. This state of affairs is partly cultural, partly ideological and partly motivated by greed and fear. That we have a propensity to believe nonsense is well documented [5].

While understanding is relative, there is a modicum of knowledge which is required of the individual in order to reasonably accurately comprehend the human condition. On the savanna where we evolved things were not nearly this complicated. In order to appreciate whether or not one understands climate physics sufficiently, I pose three not quite arbitrary questions:

What is ECS?
What is the Eemian?
What is PETM?

If a person cannot rattle off answers, blindfolded, with no recourse to the internet, then one’s understanding may be too fragile and too limited. One may have a difficult time assimilating the science directly and will be overly dependent on the main stream media for information. I chose these three questions because they are germane to being able to read Hansen’s paper. This paper is not a difficult read but like all scientific papers it assumes a specialist’s knowledge and at 25 pages is a tough slog if one constantly has to refer to Wikipedia every other sentence for a definition of terms. Any Blue Ridge Leader reader can do this. It just takes a lot of time which I fully appreciate most people do not have.

ECS is equilibrium climate sensitivity and is an estimate of how much the Earth will warm if the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled and after the climate has stabilized. But there are caveats. It only takes into account fast feedbacks by definition. And here we see that one must understand what a feedback is, which may require yet another trip to Wikipedia. At any rate, ECS is what the argument between climate deniers and climate realists is all about. The consensus view is that the planet will warm between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius with a mean value of 3 degrees. Deniers pretend the value is less than 1 degree or even 0 since a few do not believe that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Some scientists think the value may be closer to 4.5 degrees or even higher because of evidence in the paleoclimate record. Authors of a recent article in the journal Science [11] wrote: “The Earth system response to small changes in carbon dioxide is bigger than suggested by earlier climate models.” These scientists are describing what actually happened in the past, in this case the mid-Pliocene (look it up in Wikipedia) and is climate model independent. The paleoclimate record is what the Hansen paper is about. ECS contrasts with Earth System Response or Sensitivity which takes into account long term feedback mechanisms as well.

The Eemian is the name for the last interglacial period before the present one, which is called the Holocene. It occurred between 135,000 and 114,000 years ago. The Eemian is a beautiful analogue to the current climate because the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels where a little lower than they are today. The climate was 1 degree C warmer and sea levels were four to nine meters (roughly 10 to 30 feet) higher than they are today. Physical models are only as good as all the physical processes which are included in the simulation. If a feedback mechanism is left out or if a physical process is not well understood then the simulations will have errors. But whatever actually happened, happened so that every physical mechanism is explicitly included in the paleoclimate record. There is some disagreement between the consensus view and the more pessimistic view regards some of the measurements and some of the timing. Did a process take place over decades, centuries or millennia? The time line derived from sediment is often blurry.

The PETM is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum which occurred 55 million years ago. There is an interesting lesson for us today in the PETM as it involved the dramatic release of methane and carbon dioxide from methane clathrate frozen under the ocean floor and/or melting and decomposing peat. Both of these phenomena are currently being observed. The magnitude of the release is on the order of the estimated amount of fossil fuels. But the rate of the release was slower by an order of magnitude. This is of considerable concern to climate scientists. The IPSO report states [10]: “More worrying still, the scale and rate of the present day carbon perturbation, and resulting ocean acidification, is unprecedented in Earth’s known history. Today’s rate of carbon release, at approximately 30 Gt of CO2 per year, is at least 10 times faster than that which preceded the last major species extinction (the PETM), while geological records indicate that the current acidification is unparalleled in at least the last 300 million years.”

The lesson for us is that if we know these things, or take the time to learn them, we have access to the climate science literature directly. If we do not know these details, then reading the scientific literature directly becomes a bit tedious and overwhelming. Without access to the original science we are dependent on the main stream media for information. And unfortunately the only way to accurately characterize the MSM is as thoroughly unreliable. There is some reporting which is accurate but lot’s that is pure fabrication, and without the knowledge one can acquire outside the MSM, one cannot tell the difference. While there is considerable evidence of dishonesty, ambivalence, carelessness and ignorance, mostly the MSM is simply unreliable, unverifiable and irrelevant. And this is unfortunate and explains at least in part the widening gap between the reality of the human condition and what people believe.

I’m not a consumer of MSM, primarily because I spend so much time trying to acquire information from primary sources like scientific journals and text books. Think of it as my hobby. My wife subscribes to Time magazine. I don’t read it except for the “Briefing” page because I always have something better to read. A conservative Republican friend doesn’t read it because it is too liberal. But I know many people who do read it and rely on its presumed honestly.

In the September 23, 2013 issue, on the “Briefing” page the editors ran this one line story: “60 percent increase in ice-covered ocean water since last year, leading some scientists to believe that the planet is actually undergoing global cooling”. This is not true. And there is no attribution so it is unverifiable in any event. Time magazine is regrettably misinforming the public on a massively important issue. Yet the behavior of Time magazine is in no way exceptional. There are many worse news outlets than Time.

If one wants to be a skeptic, one must not believe everything one reads or hears without questioning it. First, Time did not attribute a source for this information. So the first question to ask Time editors is of course “what is your source?” Second, 60 percent seems rather high and does not square with any of the data from credible sources, as we will see. How was it measured or calculated? Did somebody at Time confirm the calculation? Who are these scientists who supposedly changed their view based on a single year observation? Did anybody at Time speak directly with “some” scientists? Did Time consult with any knowledgeable persons before running the item?

Curiously Time employs one of the best science writers in the MSM. Brian Walsh [6] writes consistently and accurately about human-caused climate change in addition to other science. In fact on May 10 this year in Time magazine Walsh wrote “Human civilization didn’t exist the last time that carbon levels in the atmosphere were as high as they are now. As a new study shows, temperatures were much higher—and the Arctic was largely ice free.” Walsh was writing about the mid-Pliocene paper I cited above. Before the editors of the “Briefing” page ran their global cooling canard they might have checked with their own in-house expert. If they didn’t even do that, we find it hard to believe they actually talked to “some” scientist.

An aerial view of the ice core drilling platform at Lake El’gygytgyn in Russia. From an article by Time Magazine science writer Brian Walsh. Image courtesy of Jens Karls [11]

Let’s examine the data.

Figure 2 shows the Arctic sea ice cover estimated by proxy data during the last 1450 years. I used data from Kinnard et al [7]. The black curve is the forty-year smoothed proxy-based reconstructed late-summer Arctic sea ice extent over the period AD 561–1995. The data provided by the authors includes 95 percent confidence curves. The jagged blue curve is the yearly data for observed August (late summer) sea ice extent. The authors give this data up to and including 2008 and explain why they used August data in their article. I’ve supplemented this data with the August sea ice extent record published by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) for the years 2009 to 2013 [8]. The y-axis is the ice extent in square kilometers. Note that the ice extent over the last 1400 years is remarkably stable at around 10 million square kilometers. Of course it varies from year to year with the weather and the authors discuss error bounds. The authors also discuss the medieval warm period and the little ice age. It is an interesting article. But like the Hansen paper, a specialist’s background is useful if only for definition of terms.

Note the inevitable hockey stick blade beginning around 1970. This is the human-caused global warming signature. Our Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli sued our state university using our taxpayer money to make the hockey stick blade go away but it shows up unfailingly in every data set. The collapse of Arctic sea ice is clearly unprecedented in the paleoclimate record at least back to AD 561. In 2012, the sea ice extent set a record well below what any climate models had predicted. The “recovery” in 2013 was anticipated simply because of natural variability. Using the August data the increase in Arctic sea ice extent from 2012 to 2013 is 30 percent but the decrease in extent from the 561-1970 AD norm to 2013 is 40 percent.

The observed data, the blue curve, is jagged. From year to year it increases and then decreases. This is why I suspect that Time’s “some scientists” do not exist. And it is why in the science journals such as Nature, Science, Geophysical Research Letters, EOS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, we do not find scientist discussing global cooling. If we consider the expanded view of the observed data we can clearly see the year to year noise superimposed on the global warming trend line. No credible scientist would change his or her mind on one year’s data point while ignoring the overwhelming trend. It is just too farfetched to imagine a scientist flip flopping from one year to the next on the basis of noise. Further and more to the point, the 2013 sea ice extent was the sixth lowest on record and is still well below climate model estimates. The Arctic sea ice is not recovering as Time’s own Brian Walsh makes clear citing published science.

Since the Time quote refers to the ocean ice extent we should also look at the Antarctic. It turns out the sea ice in the Southern Ocean has been increasing slightly. According to Jason Samenow [9] at the Capital weather gang web site, using NSIDC data, the Antarctic sea ice increased from 2012 to 2013 using September data by 0.15 percent or hardly anything at all. So I do not know where the 60 percent number came from. I do not doubt that there may be some cherry-picked measurement that might show this. I doubt that it is relevant. As skeptics I suggest we all assume Time magazine is pretending. And that is a real shame because misinforming the public has huge costs.

“We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend, to pretend
We’re fated to pretend, to pretend”

“Time to Pretend” from MGMT’s album Oracular Spectacular

[1] James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Gary Russell and Pushker Kharecha, Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2013 371, 20120294, published 16 September 2013.

[2] Richard Alley, AGU Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future, 08 June 2013 — 13 June 2013, Granby, CO, USA, about 22 minutes into the presentation: State of the Climate System http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_-8u86R3Yc

[3] Research Spotlight, EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, Volume 94, number 39, 24 September 2013.

[4] Nature Outlook supplementary section Agriculture and Drought, Adapting to a changing climate, 26 September, 2013, Vol 501.

[5] Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain, Times Books, 2011.

[6] Brian Walsh senior editor at Time. http://science.time.com/author/bryanrwalsh/
[7] Christophe Kinnard, Christian M. Zdanowicz, David A. Fisher, Elisabeth Isaksson, Anne de Vernal & Lonnie G. Thompson, Reconstructed changes in Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years, Nature, Vol 479, 24 November, 2011

[8] Fetterer, F., K. Knowles, W. Meier, and M. Savoie. 2002, updated 2009. Sea Ice Index. [indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. http://dx.doi.org/10.7265/N5QJ7F7W . NSIDC ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Aug/N_08_area.txt

[9] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/09/23/antarctic-sea-ice-hit-35-year-record-high-saturday/

[10] The State of the Ocean 2013: Perils, Prognoses andProposals, http://www.stateoftheocean.org/pdfs/IPSO-Summary-Oct13-FINAL.pdf

[11] This article was covered by Brian Walsh in Time magazine here: http://science.time.com/2013/05/10/studies-of-the-past-show-an-ice-free-arctic-could-be-in-our-future/ Julie Brigham-Grette, Pliocene Warmth, Polar Amplification, and Stepped Pleistocene Cooling Recorded in NE Arctic Russia, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 9 May 2013 / Page 1 / 10.1126/science.1233137 and Martin Melles, et al., 2.8 Million Years of Arctic Climate Change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia, Science Vol 337 20 July 2012.

Figure 2 (from Figure 3 in [7]) Forty year smoothed reconstructed late-summer Arctic sea ice extent.

Cuccinelli Fails the Breathalyzer

September 11, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.” Richard Muller, NYTimes op/Ed [1]

Tony Noerpel

Some would question whether Richard Muller hadn’t been more a denier than a skeptic. He had technical concerns with the instrument record of the Earth’s climate over the last 150 years, the blade of Michael Mann’s famous hockey stick. But these concerns did not in any way challenge the fundamental physics of human-caused climate change. They merely questioned some aspect of the bookkeeping. Nonetheless, his concerns were testable and in fact had already been identified and tested by climate scientists during the last couple of decades. Muller an accomplished scientist could quickly have done the literature search himself but the scientists he criticized had explained to him often enough that his technical concerns had been raised and addressed. Instead Muller tested his objections and concluded, to no one’s surprise that the climate science community had been right all along. The recent Earth warming is dramatic and unprecedented and humans are almost entirely the cause. The latest IPCC report pegs the likelihood of human responsibility at greater than 95%. That is as close to science speak for empirically dead certain as we get. As I predicted [2], Muller’s confirmation of the reality of human-caused climate change has had no impact on deniers. … Continue Reading

Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

August 28, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“Since we have expanded by use of intelligence and detection of not necessarily sustainable gradients, continued civilization is not a foregone conclusion…. Our oil economy freeloads on photosynthetic fossil fuels, buried treasures that the rest of life passed by. But these treasures are running out.” Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, Into the Cool, 2005.

There are at least two very good questions a reader might want to ask me, inquiries which I encourage. Why am I writing this column? What do I expect to accomplish or do I have a purpose? The short answers are that I write these columns to clear my head and my purpose, what I expect to accomplish, is to come as close to understanding reality or truth as I possibly can. It would be great to anticipate the future of Homo sapiens and to discover if we have a purpose. The latter is a quest that is limited by my own intellect and also by the information which is available to me within the time frame of my sojourn in life. The long answers are not just much longer but raise more questions. … Continue Reading

The Wisdom of Children and Foolish Old Men

August 2, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
Malala Yousafzai

“Without education no country can make progress. Girls education is the only solution to the present crisis being faced by the nation.” Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai [1] was born on July 12, 1997 into a Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity in the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Yousafzai was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner and an educational activist. He runs a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. Malala Yousafzai has advocated for the right of children to be educated and for women’s rights in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. After having destroyed over one hundred girls’ schools, the Taliban had set an edict that no girls could attend school after January 15, 2009. After this date the Taliban continued to destroy schools. The government intervened and negotiated a deal which allowed some of the girls’ schools to reopen. … Continue Reading

On Being Human or a Consumer Unit

July 9, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments

“When greed is seen as acceptable even praiseworthy there is clearly something wrong with our collective value system.” Dalai Lama Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World.

“All matter has condensed out of energy, all changes are driven by energy conversion, and all structures originate from energy fluctuations.” Reiner Kummel, The Second Law of Economics, Energy, Entropy, and the Origins of Wealth. … Continue Reading

The Parable of Easter Island

June 19, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“No other site that I have visited made such a ghostly impression on me as Rano Raraku, the quarry on Easter Island where its famous gigantic stone statues were carved. To begin with, the island is the most remote habitable scrap of land in the world.” Jared Diamond, Collapse.

In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond describes several failed human societies and civilizations. One that stands out is Easter Island. When it was first discovered and inhabited by Polynesians it was a veritable paradise, a resilient community. There was a thick forest to supply material for dugout canoes and homes and plentiful marine life in the oceans accessible by canoe to feed the islanders. Unfortunately, the trees were exploited, mined rather than harvested, if you will, in a wholly nonrenewable fashion. These trees were not just cut down to supply the needs of the islanders, food and shelter, but also to quarry the gigantic stone statues for which the island is famous and haul them for miles to the beach rolling them on fresh cut logs. … Continue Reading

Loudoun Transition Initiative

June 7, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

By Guest writer Will Stewart

Will Stewart is an electro-mechanical engineer trained in the design of energy generation, HVAC, and solar applications. He designed the passives solar aspects of his current home, as well as the photovoltaic system that powers it. He also is an enthusiastic gardener, fruit and nut tree landscape designer, shepherd of a flock of Finnsheep, an avid bike commuter, and all-around supporter of a wide variety of sustainable practices. He is a former president of Sustainable Loudoun and an Enterprise Architect.

Bothered by steadily increasing impacts from global warming? Ever wonder what Bush meant when he said “America is addicted to oil”? Want less ‘globalized’ food and more local healthy food choices? Want a local economy that is resilient enough to withstand sequestrations and national/global economic disruptions? On June 8 at 1:00 p.m. in Oatland Plantation, you can find out what you can do to make a difference in these areas… … Continue Reading

The Age of the Universe

May 28, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“This whole Big Shebang got started just a bit over 13.5 billion years ago. The trials and errors, painstaking observations and brilliant insights that have led to this answer amount to one of mankind’s most impressive intellectual accomplishments.” David Weintraub [1]

Astronomer David Weintraub explores the history of our discovery of the age of the universe in his appropriately titled book “How Old is the Universe.” From the nascent science of the ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and Eratosthenes to the mature science of present day astronomers and their space telescopes he describes how humans have tackled this question. Based on the most recent observations using the Hubble space telescope, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and the Cosmic Background Explorer in combination with our theoretical understanding of the laws of nature such as quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity scientists have estimated that the universe is between 13.5 and 14 billion years old. This estimate uses four independent methods based on white dwarf (a type of star) cooling times, the ages of star clusters, the physics of the expanding universe and measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. … Continue Reading

Galileo and the Deniers

April 26, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“Some years ago, as Your Serene Highness well knows, I discovered in the heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age. The novelty of these things, as well as some consequences which followed from them in contradiction to the physical notions commonly held among academic philosophers, stirred up against me no small number of professors—as if I had placed these things in the sky with my own hands in order to upset nature and overturn the sciences. … Showing a greater fondness for their own opinions than for truth, they sought to deny and disprove the new things which, if they had cared to look for themselves, their own senses would have demonstrated to them. To this end they hurled various charges and published numerous writings filled with vain arguments.” Galileo Galilei [1]

Galileo wrote these words to a patron, Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1615, complaining about professors who attacked his proof of the Copernican heliocentric solar system. While the facts and eventually history sided with Galileo, he was subject to house arrest and his less fortunate contemporary Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake [2]. … Continue Reading

Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

March 21, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards Results and Ceremony Announcement

Every year REHAU, Inc. of Leesburg Virginia along with Sustainable Loudoun sponsors four awards for the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The name of the award is the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Award. The presentation ceremony will be on Wednesday April 24 at REHAU’s North America headquarters at 1501 Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg. The students will display their winning projects and be available to discuss them at 6:00 p.m. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. entertainment will be provided by the Potomac Falls High School (PFHS) Guitar Quartet sponsored by Sand Energy. The formal program begins at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools will present the awards. Refreshments will be provided by REHAU. This event is free and open to the public. … Continue Reading

When Will Norfolk and Virginia Beach Have To Be Abandoned?

March 14, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“[F]ive meters of sea level rise … is at the low end of what we should expect and is now almost certainly locked-in. We may be able to slow it down but it is highly unlikely that we can prevent it from happening.” Tony Noerpel [1]

I based this assessment on evidence from the recent paleoclimate record including two previous interglacials in the Pleistocene Epoch: the Eemian (about 125,000 years ago) and the Holsteinian (about 400,000 years ago) and the mid Pliocene Epoch (about three million years ago). While there is considerable evidence going back over the entire Cenozoic Era which includes all Geological time since the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, the Earth was a different place much older than the beginning of the Pliocene Epoch, 5.3 million years ago due to plate tectonics. The Isthmus of Panama land bridge between North and South America formed about 3.5 million years ago modifying the ocean currents and heat transport from the tropics to the polar regions. It therefore seems a reasonable assumption that extreme climates after this time may be good analogues to the current climate event since the locations of continents and ocean circulation have been the same. The caveat is that human emissions are increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide at a rate ten to hundred times faster than during any other identified event in Earth history during the last 300 million years with the exception of collisions with asteroids such as the one which slammed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago, killing all the dinosaurs. Climate Scientist Andrew Glikson pointed out that: “asteroid collisions result in instantaneous release of carbon dioxide from the impacted, melted and vaporized target rocks, including carbonates and shale, and so release carbon dioxide much faster than the rate of human combustion of fossil fuels.” … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014


The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014


By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012


By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …


Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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April 2014
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate


April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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Easter at "The Park"


April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club


April 30, 2014

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

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May 4, 2014

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

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View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014


In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …



Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014


In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …



Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014


Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014


At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election


Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

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Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger


By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting


U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014


Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014


Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …


Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …



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