Friday, November 20, 2009

Re-allocating energy research... a lesson in capitalism

The Obama Administration, while pumping up funding and incentives to further develop hybrid vehicles, has slashed $100 million (60%) from the budget for George W. Bush’s preferred approach -- hydrogen fueled cars.  Of course, this is one more sign that we are being led by people who want America to succeed, and no longer by technological morons, determined to make every possible wrong decision.

Why am I so fierce in my appraisal of so-called “hydrogen-power” -- despite my portraying it positively, in several stories and novels?  Because it cannot possibly help us in the near (twenty year) future, as was cogently pointed out recently by Energy Secretary ( and Nobel winner) Stephen Chu.  Even were all the bugs to be solved and taken out of the fuel cells under discussion, the lack of anything resembling a system to distribute hydrogen fuel to the masses would relegate this technology to the realm of science fiction for at least several decades.

Meanwhile, it would be business as usual, as the US plunges ever deeper into hock to Big Oil and hostile foreign producers.  Of course, anyone vested with a scintilla of imagination might wonder if this was the intent of the entire H-Power endeavor all along, to suck up public energy research funds and fritter them away uselessly, without ever actually affecting national self-sufficiency.  Moreover, ask yourself this: even once all the problems with distribution were finally ironed out, and hydrogen-ready service stations were finally standing by, who would handle the new fuel’s distribution and commercial sale?

You got it. The same guys who were actually getting all the research money, under Bush.  The oilcos.  All of them Bushite pals.

In contrast, plug-in hybrids have the potential to draw much of their power off the electric grid... and potentially - eventually - solar rooftops, leading to true (if partial) autonomy.  Above all, they would result in a dispersed power and supply system, not dependent upon the oilcos and more conducive to participation by small, startup companies.  In other words, real capitalism instead of reflexive monopolism.

That latter distinction is one that I will continue to hammer home.  When, oh when, will liberals come to realize that the Left has been at-best only a part-time and problematic friend?  That socialism may work in helping redress injustices (free education and all that) but it is absolutely lousy at generating the sort of economy that is wealthy enough to take on big projects?  Good capitalism, the truly competitive and open and accountable kind -- bulwarked by lots of startups and small businesses that unleash creativity -- has always done better under democrats!  So why not crow about it?  Show the statistics.  Embrace the “first liberal,” Adam Smith, who above all denounced and despised crony conspiratorial aristocratic monopolists? Why allow the shills of monopoly to pretend that corporate gigantism has anything, whatsoever, to do with free markets?

Why is Obama allowing Fox to portray him as a socialist?  Is he a Keynsian?  Yes.  But if the energy initiatives are any sign, he also wants creative enterprise to get healthy again.


More Miscellany About Tomorrow

Stefan Jones offers this:  Phthalate Exposure Linked to Less-Masculine Play by Boys -- "A study of 145 preschool children reports, for the first time, that when the concentrations of two common phthalates in mothers' prenatal urine are elevated their sons are less likely to play with male-typical toys and games, such as trucks and play fighting." Maybe this will be the issue that makes concerns over toxins crossover to convervativeland. Yes, these plastics are turning your sons into sensitive nancy-boys who are no good at sports!  Hey, Culture War wasn’t our idea.  But we gotta win it.

Start your home solar system with solar thermal.  It’s more mature, with more rapid payback. 

The future of tissue culture meat... has been predicted by sci fi for nearly 50 years (including by me).  Now there are signs the time may be at hand. "Future flesh" - instead of slaughtered animals - could eliminate 51% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (and 90% of choking victims). A quarter of the earth's land is currently used to grow meat, along with 8% of the world's water.  There’s talk of then being able to “taste” extinct critters like Dodos, since regrowing muscle may be possible, even if we can’t clone the whole animal.  The meat could be more pure, safer and gene-designed to be healthier.

Alas, the article in H+ is way too sanguine.  Getting texture right will take many years. Purists will despise “chicktish” and “pertribeef” for a long time and ranches won’t go away overnight.  Also, Industrializing tissue culture is going to be a huge undertaking, messy, using a lot more water and energy and feedstock protein, than boosters predict. At least at first.  The zealot author also predicts an end to dairy -- not likely. (See my short story “Piecework” in which “fabricows” are turned to producing a lot more than just milk.)

Nevertheless, meaticulture is potentially a huge breakthrough, perhaps as worldsaving as the solar shingle will be.  Above all, it’d be way more moral.  And the switch away from killing animals could trigger us finally being contacted by those wise but disgusted advanced beings from ... Vega.

Speaking of disgusting.... yipes, a both humorous and cringeworthy analysis of the evolutionary origins of the human... er... scrotum

One of the best political blogs - though partisan - is produced intermittently by my friend Russ Daggatt.  This entry, about what Rupert Murdoch has been doing to the Wall Street Journal, goes beyond that to how we’re in an era of “assertion politics.”  When you are reduced to your red-meat political base, all you have to do, to keep them furious, is assert lots of things without providing a scintilla of evidence.  This, of course, is free speech.... till we start paying for it in a “tsunami of McVeighs...”  my own aphorism for the rising tide of fomented treason that we can confidently to arrive, as bitter fruit of all the lies.
States in New England top a new set of health and death rankings, while the South still lags.

IBM scientists have created a fast, one-step point-of-care-diagnostic test, based on a silicon chip that uses capillary forces to analyze tiny samples of blood serum for the presence of disease markers.

Sergei Mayburov at the Lebedev Institute of Physics in Moscow suggests that optical communication is a natural process in many cells of body, closely related to photosynthesis.

Scientists at  report that playing specific sounds while people slept helped them remember more of what they had learned before they fell sleep, to the point where memories of individual facts were enhanced.

A 25-Year Battery Technology Review .

Two important tips for improving cardiac arrest victims' chances of survival: - (1) Use continuous chest compressions without stopping for mouth-to-mouth breathing (Duh? The chest compressions already fill the lungs.  Still, if a top model needs the full old CPR on the beach, I suppose...
     (2) - Cool the brain.

Make your “Avatar” action figure come alive, onscreen!

Over the next three years, the Planetary Society will build and fly a series of three solar-sail spacecraft dubbed LightSails powered only by sunlight, first in orbit around the Earth and eventually into deeper space. 

The feasibility of redesigning the human condition (such as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet Earth) will be the focus at Humanity + Summit, Dec. 5-6 in Irvine, California at EON Reality.  A lot of the usual suspects will be there.... this time including yours truly... (actually, I’ll be at the pre-conference, the day before, about how Hollywood and mythology are screwing the Enlightenment..)

170 comments:

Rob said...

It was one of those moments of strange irony, to visit Epcot Center last year and discover that GM is still the principal sponsor of what used to be called the "World in Motion" pavilion in Future World. (And is now merely called "Test Track", devoted to the state of the art, rather than future art...)

Not a hybrid gas/electric vehicle in sight. But there was an H-power vehicle in the middle of the exhibit hall that no one will ever be able to buy!

Dave Rickey said...

Sci-Am link didn't work, try this one.

Hydrogen has always been a non-starter, not least because in essence it is only an energy transportation medium (and not one that slots neatly into existing infrastructure, as you point out), the actual energy would have to come from something else. Algae-based biofuels are probably our best bet (essentially being a way of turning solar energy into sometime we can pour into existing gas tanks, and not needing fresh water or arable land like other biofuels).

Hell, I can't stand the texture of lot-raised beef *now*, but I can get over it. There will continue to be a place for range-raised meat, the cowboys aren't going away for a while even after the technical problems of vatmeat are solved.

The danger in the GOP being so thoroughly captured by the crazies is that brand power could carry those crazies into power one last time before it really sinks in to the average American just how crazy they are. As long as they're just being against everything the Democrats are for, it's hard to tell it's because of insanity and not just politics. And then things get ugly.

We're into an era where the parts of the country that have always preferred ideological Truth to mere facts can completely isolate themselves from being told about those facts. They're on both the left and right, but the ones on the left aren't nearly as dangerous. Assertion journalism is a symptom that feeds the problem, but not a root cause.

On "Redesigning the human condition...." I have my own thoughts on that particular problem. The defining problem of our era is that we have new tools for handling information, and from a very real societies *are* applications in information management (it's not hard to make the case that every social advancement and major structural change has been rooted in information processing). But we have only ad-hoc methods for how to use them, and no concept at all that what's needed, what's inevitable, is a total change in how society works.

--Dave

picersab: The scars left on the rigid parts of a lobster trap by the claws of the inmates.

Eadwacer said...

RE: Phthalate Exposure Linked to Less-Masculine Play by Boys -- does this mean we will have fewer wars?

Tim H. said...

Hydrogen gets a lot easier to handle as ch4, and producing methane from garbage and sewage is old technology. Adding methane recovery capacity to waste treatment plants and feedlots would be a twofer, since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas. Not sure that vat meat would make a fast food burgers any worse, but it does remind me of Arthur C. Clarke's "Food of the gods"

"notom", constituent of oblivion.

chuck said...

with regard to CH4, reclaiming it is just fine, conventional bioreactors while an old technology are way to inefficient to make any kind of dent in the issue. The way to go is partial aqueous hydrolysis... if only CWT had spent as much on research and engineering as they did on marketing and finance.

Tony Fisk said...

who would handle the new fuel’s distribution and commercial sale?

You got it. The same guys who were actually getting all the research money, under Bush. The oilcos. All of them Bushite pals.


A similar scenario for nuclear power?

Certainly, distributed technologies, like home solar, are going to cause a bit of tension between the little guys and the large power companies. A breaking scandal in Australia is that power companies decline to offer early-pay discounts to solar users, as well as appropriating all the carbon credits for themselves (That's right! 10% of our users generate power from their rooftops so that *we* can offer you a greener service... even if the bastards are always in arrears)

I am waiting for safety concerns to be raised about off-grid power generation. (Anyone for bootlegged power delivered via microwave transmissions?)

hytesmss: the frantic gibberings that result from upgrading your computer only to find that you've permanently downgraded it (no BIOS load is never a good sign!!)

Tim H. said...

"Partial aqueous hydrolysis" seems to be describing a more elaborate bioreacter. If there's something better, ready to be deployed, yes.

CulturalEngineer said...

RE battery technology, plug-in hybrids and Adam Smith...

Seems like Hybrids are the way to go for the time being... though considerable energy might be also be well spent re-designing cities and the structure of office work and mass transit to reduce commutes and the need for the overuse of the too-huge vehicles used to cart around a lone rider.

And the disastrous misunderstanding of Adam Smith by the Republicrat/Demicans has been a great boon to other nations that seemed to pay more attention!

Though I'm not entirely sure it's so much a misunderstanding as it is a misuse for narrow political ends by BOTH so-called sides.

An article a few days ago, Rare Earth - The New Great Game makes a rather strong case that our nation's (and the West in general) myopic leadership in both politics and business...

May well lead to some difficulties in production as it relates to needed resources for green technologies...

The good news! Well, if I had any money to invest, it might be worthwhile to look into rare-earth-metal mines in California.

Allen Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

In your blog post, you wrote:

"Scientists at report that playing specific sounds while people slept helped them remember more of what they had learned before they fell sleep, to the point where memories of individual facts were enhanced."

The phrase "specific sounds" was a link.

That link is broken. Following it does not produce an article about the sounds.

Please correct the link. The correct link will go, directly and immediately, to the full text of the article when followed.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In your blog post, you wrote:

"Speaking of disgusting.... yipes, a both humorous and cringeworthy analysis of the evolutionary origins of the human... er... scrotum."

The word "scrotum" was a link.

That link is broken. Following it does not produce an article about the scrotum.

Please correct the link. The correct link will go, directly and immediately, to the full text of the article when followed.

Thank you.

TCB said...

There are varieties of fake meat that are really, really close to the real thing. Not easy to find, though. I used to eat at a lovely little vegan Vietnamese restaurant called Quan Yin in Worcester, Massachusetts that used it. The stuff that wasn't ham but could almost fool you, the stuff that wasn't fish but could really fool you...

As for solar thermal heating, there are designs that are super-simple and have no moving parts, that a slightly handy person can build. Cheaply. Here's a fairly typical one using aluminum cans, painted black, in a sort of window frame. Air circulates through the cans and the sun heats it. Tho this one has an electric fan, rising air will circulate by itself if you set it up right; at night you would close it with a flap or door to prevent air reversing direction and losing heat.

http://www.coloradowindpower.com/page.php?26

Robert said...

Considering the improvements in inkjet technology (to the point you can build a replacement part for a car that works), I'm surprised they don't take an inkjet and use it with the synthetic meat to give it the proper "stringiness" to simulate the muscle we're so used to eating. ^^

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Robert, run don't walk to a patent lawyer, you might've thought of that first!

Shawn H. Corey said...

"Meanwhile, it would be business as usual, as the US plunges ever deeper into hock to Big Oil and hostile foreign producers."

What hostile foreign producers? Do you even know where the US buys its oil? No, you just repeat the rhetoric without bothering with the truth. Do you know that the US has never imported oil from the Middle East? What the oil companies do is just the tip of the iceberg.

TCB said...

Shawn: incorrect. Import figures are easy to find.
US Petroleum Imports By Country
That's a gummint website, I assume the figures are rock-solid. About a fifth of US crude imports are from the Persian Gulf, about an eighth from the Saudis alone, and the Saudis both hate our culture and own at least 7% of our country. That's gone up some since 2004, I'm sure. I heard a higher figure the other day but can't recall it. I'm finding it difficult to quantify; I get the impression that Saudi sources prefer to keep it on the down low. 60 percent of Citibank is Saudi-held, and Citibank received 20 billion in the bailouts, while having previously lobbied successfully for policies that injured the US and its citizens: "Lest you forget, it was Citigroup's 1998 lobbying efforts, as reported by Open Secrets, that paved the way for banks to get involved in other forms of business such as insurance. Citibank lobbyists were also front and center when bankruptcy reform was discussed, and consumers currently hoping for Chapter 7 relief know how much more difficult this process has become." Quote from last link.

So, yeah. We're paying guys who don't like us so they can buy more of our country out from under us and get bailouts from our taxes and make it harder for us to get out from under debt bondage to them, while heating up the planet burning fossil fuels instead of aggressively going to renewables, rant rant rant

*hyperventilates and faints*

tacitus2 said...

Shawn
The most recent available stats are August of 2009. The top five exporters of crude oil to the US are Canada, Mexico, Venezuala, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
I suppose this supports your sentiment that we do not import a lot from the Middle East, but oil being a rather mobile product it makes sense that we would use sources closer to home and save some transport costs. Of course, the price of oil from all these sources is related.
Not sure if any of the top five are really hostile nations, but I would rate all but Canada as at least troubled.
Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

Have a look here:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

Even if we received no middle eastern oil, it's fungible, imports from anywhere give the largest producers leverage over us, even if none of the oil we use came from them. That's why getting away from oil is important, even if AGW theory collapses under the enthusiasm of it's more rabid supporters.

Robert said...

Considering I have only an idea of utilizing inkjet printers in creating the same "musculature" found in regular meat using the new synthetic meats, and lack any technical knowledge of it... I very much doubt I could get the "idea" of using inkjet printing to create realistic meat patented.

Besides, isn't it better to get the idea out there so someone with the skills and abilities can actually succeed in this endeavor rather than sit on an idea patent and insist people pay me to do something that will help a lot of people?

Or am I being an idealist again? ^^;;

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

What you've stated is nearly as substantial as some of the software patents that have in the news, especially on the "mac net". You could probably use a pulsing nozzle like a fuel injector, more pulses for a thicker layer. Meat pulser. I'm suddenly glad lunch didn't involve meat.

Tim H. said...

Oops, meant "have been in the news"
Also wonder if a small modulated electrical current through the vat would condition the meat, perhaps hook speaker wires to it. And would a connoisseur request "Mozart conditioned" steak?

rewinn said...

It is indeed awkward to square a just and necessary criticism of free market capitalism with the equally just and necessary use of its enormous power for good. Power tools are like that; you can lose a finger or even more if you're not careful, but you wouldn't want to do without them.

It might be helpful to ponder the Salon "interview" of Adam Smith; he's not necessarily who we think he is.

As to the need for energy solutions we can implement NOW instead of some future hydrogen economy, Thomas Friendmann popularizes the concept of a Green Hawk. Even if global warming is a hoax (it's not) and even if hippie communal sandal wearers look funny (yes we are!), still the reality is that our planet has several billion people who will not stop trying to get to our American standard of living, and THAT will totally break any carbon-based energy economy.

Now, I'll expect the next week to be filled with climate change deniers cherry-picking phrases from some stolen email and ignoring the debunking of their claims. But even if deniers are right (they're not) and those greedy climatologists are on the take from Big Wind and Big Solar (they wish!), still the Green Hawks are right. And a patriotic American would want our nation to be #1 into the solution, so as to reap the benefit, instead of selling ourselves to others, e.g. Chinese Solar Panel Firm to Open Plant in Arizona.

Of course, I understand patriotic Chinese saying the same thing about THEIR nation. Do your most, and may the best planet win!

David Brin said...

Researchers taught people to move 50 pictures to their correct locations on a computer screen. Each picture was accompanied by a related sound — meow for a cat, whirring for a helicopter, for example.

Then, 12 subjects took a nap, during which 25 of the sounds were played along with white noise as they slept. When they awoke, none realized that the sounds had been played or could guess which ones had been used. Yet, almost all remembered more precisely the computer locations of the pictures associated with the 25 sounds that had been played while they slept, doing less well placing the other 25 pictures.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/science/20sleep.html?_r=1

David Brin said...

Rewinn, actually, you'll not find climate change deniers here... except occasional hit-and-runners.

In fact, we have a slight deficit here of conservatives and libertarians. Most of them -- like Tacitus2 -- are so reasonable and modernist/decent that really, there's nobody seriously putting forward any Fox/Murdochian assertions here.

Likewise, few jibbering lefties. Though I do cross-post on DailyKos, in part to draw out some of those, and to feel virtuously balanced when they call me a right-winger!

Robert Leyland said...

David,

You are correct there is a dearth of deniers. There are however plenty of people genuinely skeptical of the state of climate "science". I've stated my views before, and been derided here for them.

Now, take a look at some of the egregious actions uncovered by the CRU e-mail leaks, and really ask yourself: Is this how science is supposed to be conducted?

Step aside from the political issues, be objective about it. I know you can do it.

Seriously, the science is terrible.

cheers,
Robert

Rob said...

They're not denying the fact of global warming. They used to do this but now there is too much data to deny that part.

They're denying that its controlling variable is the anthropogenic contribution. In other words the counter claim is not that GW is false, but that AGW is false, and that therefore the proposed solutions from Al Gore &c are not sufficient to counter it.

Yes, it's also true that they offer no solutions in particular, beyond FIBM and status quo ante, backed up with factoids about the insignificance of things like SUV driving on the total carbon footprint.

Provide counterpoint on that, instead of the straw man, and you might begin to get somewhere with people other than Glenn Beck.

Tony Fisk said...

Sorry to bust the patent bubble, Rob, Jamais Cascio reported on 'meat-jet printers' at the University of Manchester back in 2005

(A notion I played with in Superstruct, including some not so good ramifications...)

(btw: Howard Waldorp's 'Ugly Chickens' mentions that dodo flesh was distinctly unappetising.)

lc said...

Regarding energy infrastructure: McDonald's is providing charge-ups for customers' cars.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2009/
oct/08/plug-plump/

Robert said...

@Tony - I wasn't thinking of going for a patent on the concept of using inkjets to print muscle fiber with synthetic meat. I consider patenting concepts or ideas to be greedy and selfish. If you want to profit off of the idea, you should do the work to make it function. Otherwise you're just denying other people who can do the work from the possibility of creating that device.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

That's OK, Rob. I didn't think you were actually serious. It was just a way to lead into some relevant information.

Whilst I'm here (and quite tangentially) EL is euphoric about some stereo images obtained from the latest fly-by of Enceladus. (The plumes don't actually look stereoscopic, but the terrain does!)

David Brin said...

Robert, the climate scientist emails scandal is just more Big Lie Sh@@t.

You can cherry pick through ten thousand purloined emails and find any amount of immature statements, even by scientists, some of whom are sure to say dumb things when handwringing with friends over what to do about "the enemy."

And yes, many do see a vast conspiracy of know-nothings, rising up to threaten the very fiber of the Enlightenment Revolution. I know some of these guys who are VERY militant. Take Dennett and Hitchens and the "new atheists." Confrontationally indignant in their assumption that ALL religion is a pernicious mental illness...

None of which is actually relevant.

Re Global Climate Change (GCC) two things stand out.

1) When the vast majority of experts in a field share an urgent consensus, that does not automatically mean that the consensus view is right. But it DOES mean that a STEEP BURDEN OF PROOF falls upon doubters, to get their evidence lined up and to get truly top ranked experts to start standing up on their side.

So far, the denier movement has done none of that. Without ANY first-rank atmospheric scientists on their side, their third-raters have engaged in "gotcha" hurling of anecdotes about this or that little piece of the GCC pyramid, proclaiming that "since THIS part isn't proved, or may have some twitchy aspects, then the WHOLE THING falls!"

That is the same tactic as the Creationists use against evolution. trying endlessly to REVERSE the burden of proof, that rightly falls on them!

2) The capering and hopping and pointing and cavorting about is all a great big distraction, because the real issue is not about GCC at all. It is about a narrow clade of very rich SOBs protecting their lifeline of public addiction to their product.

Because, even if GCC proved to be an exaggeration or false alarm (unlikely but possible), we will be better off by enacting public and private policy AS IF it were true!

There are NO ways that vastly increasing our national and world energy efficiency is not, inherently a crucially urgent need. In fact, George W. Bush Said so himself! Paying lip service, before proceeding to sabotage EVERY effort to achieve that end.

No, there is a reason why only 5% of American scientists call themselves "republican." Frankly, if this all goes down badly, I would not want to be one of the oilco execs who have pushed this whole aspect of Culture War.

Look up the word "tumbrel." After denying us modern transportation for decades, they may see themselves riding the ultimate in recycling transportation.

rewinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rewinn said...

A. Oooopsie! I did not intend to imply that *here* would be flooded with deniers, but rather the mediasphere in general and the blogospher in particular; however I see that my words could reasonably be read otherwise and should have been more precise.

B. I am happy to see that at least one report in the MSM attempted a balanced approach. Unfortunately, even if thoroughly debunked, this "scandal" will join the "Whitey Tape" and "Terrorist Fist Jab" in the Library of Endlessly Circulated Rumors.

C. Until humans scientists are replaced with robots, I would expect their communications to be in English, a wonderfully imprecise language, delightfully prone to unintended interpretations despite the best of intentions on all sides. See #A.

Robert Leyland said...

Rob and David,

Once again I am very disappointed.

You jumped all over my comment as a "straw man" yet missed the point entirely.

Have you looked at the contents of the emails, the attempt to evade FOI, the blatant alteration of data (splicing temp records onto paleo data) etc.

There is no doubting the sincerity or enthusiasm of the people involved, their ethics leave a lot to be desired. They truly believe they are doing the right thing, but they've gone overboard, losing on the honesty and integrity side.

It's not science, its cargo-cult - Feynman's description fits it perfectly.

Then David you raise the straw man, of 'we need to do this anyway'

That's really a stupid argument.*

If we approach the issue by limiting CO2 (the wrong thing to do) we don't solve the problem, we just create a mess of legalese etc. that doesn't address what you want to address.

I'm totally for improving our energy infra-structure - but lets do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Get the science right, not politicized, then get the engineering right.

There have been some nice improvements recently in battery technology, the liquid salt cells, and NiZn systems. These could mitigate the big problem with Solar, which is the timing of availability. - I don't think wind is a real contender, as it is too erratic, and requires too much maintenance to be viable i.e too much downtime.

There have also been some good systems proposed for new nuclear systems, Hyperion and LFTR, as well as pebble bed (and one day fusion, maybe IEC).

We can solve the energy issue, which is fundamentally the requirement for a technological civilization, but please let's be smart about it.

thanks,
Robert

*Note to the fanatics, that is not an Ad-Hominem I'm calling the argument stupid, not calling David or Rob stupid.

Tony Fisk said...

If we approach the issue by limiting CO2 (the wrong thing to do) we don't solve the problem, we just create a mess of legalese etc. that doesn't address what you want to address.

I'm totally for improving our energy infra-structure - but lets do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Get the science right, not politicized, then get the engineering right.


The heat retaining properties of CO2 has been noted for over a century.
After bumming around at about 250ppm for the last couple of hundred thousand years, the CO2 atmospheric level shot past the much touted 'safe' level of 350ppm in around 1990. Twenty years later, it has increased by a further 10% and looks set to exceed jurassic levels by the end of the century. No reason to think it will stop there.
Not to mention the oceanic acidification effects.

When I get hot in bed, I toss the blanket off. So, I'll bite: In what way is limiting the CO2 the wrong thing to do?

Tim H. said...

I suspect "climategate" will make little difference, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, except in environmental science. The best that could be hoped for is a decrease in the sense of urgency, so fewer folks without the means for a rapid transition will be left cold in the dark. Now if the greens would put as much energy into carbon free energy as they put into attacking carbon based energy, there might be progress.

rewinn said...

Robert Leyland - with respect "the attempt to evade FOI"

With great respect, the email relating to FOIA that I have read on sites promoting StolenMailGate clearly states that the American FOIA does not apply to CRU; UK doesn't have one, and that IPR concerns (which I interpret as "Intellectual Property Rights"; please correct me if I'm wrong) would prompt the deletion of files if UK were to pass a FOIA.

From the lattermost one may assume that there is a nefarious design to evade a law which does not exist with respect to East Anglia, but a more plausible interpretation is a concern about property rights, or (less charitably) worry about being sued for compromising property rights, take your pick.

Anyway, what would be the point of concealing the data? If AGW is a hoax, there would be plenty of data to show it; concealing one dataset would be useless.

As for "...the blatant altering of data..." I'm afraid your source rather overstates the matter.

One may properly object to manipulating datasets, especially when the sources are so prone to strange variables as are tree rings, but the act of doing so is not "altering data". In a complex world, you have to manage complexity. When the process is disclosed in a published paper, it is indeed "blatant" and that is a good thing. In any event, sceptical researchers are free to produce their own datasets; there's an awfully lot of trees in the world.

Were we in a jocular mood, we would propose writing a grant to investigate what it is about climate research that converts its practitioners to communism, but we see that we have been scooped in the humor department by DenialDeport which posits an email from James Hansen to Al Gore.

soc said...

I'm totally for improving our energy infra-structure - but lets do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Get the science right, not politicized, then get the engineering right.

What an odd thing to say. What would be a wrong reason for "improving our energy infra-structure?" Improving, practically by definition, means to make something better. Even if the motives, reasons, intentions are suspect the end result is still good.

Why do you need to go hunting for a good reason to "improve our energy infra-structure" when by your own admission you are "totally" for it? By this I presume you already have a reason. If this is so, why not provide us with the reason that has caused you to be "totally for improving our energy infra-structure." And furthermore why not join the people here in the struggle to achieve that goal?

David McCabe said...

Soc, he obviously meant "improving it in the right way".

David Brin said...

RL: "Have you looked at the contents of the emails, the attempt to evade FOI, the blatant alteration of data (splicing temp records onto paleo data) etc."

I have indeed and it is repugnant. But it is YOU who are ignoring the central points. Which are

(1) that the right does this, cherry-picking anecdotes and believing that assertion by anecdotes is proof of anything general, at all.

These guys were dopes, so? Their personal credibility is trashed by their dumbass behavior, so? They did more harm to their side than good, so? You are doing precisely what I described above, so I will clip-repeat it, becasue you REALLY don't seem to understand.

CLIPPED->
a STEEP BURDEN OF PROOF falls upon doubters, to get their evidence lined up and to get truly top ranked experts to start standing up on their side.

So far, the denier movement has done none of that. Without ANY first-rank atmospheric scientists on their side, their third-raters have engaged in "gotcha" hurling of anecdotes about this or that little piece of the GCC pyramid, proclaiming that "since THIS part isn't proved, or may have some twitchy aspects, then the WHOLE THING falls!"

That is the same tactic as the Creationists use against evolution. trying endlessly to REVERSE the burden of proof, that rightly falls on them!



Rob, you really don't seem to understand my point, so please stop and try.

"Then David you raise the straw man, of 'we need to do this anyway'
That's really a stupid argument.*"

I agree it would be, if that were what I was saying. In fact though, I am pointing out that the EXTREME VENOM and bilious rage with which the neocon right and ONLY the neocon right squirms and uses anecdotes and unproved assertions to try to undermine the credibility of several entire fields of science BEARS SOME EXAMINATION.

The money trail always leads to oilco "institutes" and Saudi supported interests who would lose their addict customers, if this threat were taken seriously. Doesn't that bother you at all? All the third-rated"scientists" who pounce on anecdotes to declare the scientific consensus bogus... are paid by those guys. And that doesn't worry you?

No, you have it bass ackwards. We DO need to "do this anyway"... and it is YOU GUYS who are focusing on GCC - making it the big deal - in order to prevent us from "doing it anyways."

You saound perfectly willing to "do it anyway", despite doubting GCC. But the correlation of GCC denial with relentless policy efforts to sabotage energy efficiency is almost absolutely perfect.

Sorry, I don't give a damn how many chinks there may be in Al Gore's exaggeration. GCC is probably true, but the guys behind the denial movement don't really care. They just want to justify the perfect GOP record of sabotaging energy independence.

*Note to the fanatics, that is not an Ad-Hominem I'm calling the argument stupid, not calling David or Rob stupid.

No one says you did. You are welcome here.

David Brin said...

Tim H. said...
I suspect "climategate" will make little difference, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, except in environmental science. The best that could be hoped for is a decrease in the sense of urgency, so fewer folks without the means for a rapid transition will be left cold in the dark. Now if the greens would put as much energy into carbon free energy as they put into attacking carbon based energy, there might be progress.


Wow, what an agile and clever attempt to reverse the burden of proof! By all means, let's ignore history! Ignore the fact that energy efficiency has been sabotaged by the neocons for 30 years. Ignore the scientific consensus that the climate is under siege. Ignore the fact that energy technologies might give America a chance to ride another wave of vital innovation and commerce.

Just call for less "urgency" . Yep. That IS the ground level fundamental agenda of the right. Not Climate change. Not science. Deny urgency.

Keep the addicts addicted. Keep the vampires access to ready jugulars unimpeded.

Tony Fisk said...

Who has the time, the resources, and the motivation to perpetrate such elaborate hoaxes on what the weather's likely to be doing now and in the future?

(Who ever knew science was such a lucrative pastime?)

ovalate: to produce an egg of a pre-disposed geometry. Of ideas. See 'cherry-picking'

Rob said...

Far too many Rob's on this forum. I will have to change my handle to something else.

Rob Perkins said...

There. The quasi-social-conservative-Mormon Rob am I. The one from the Portland area who likes reasonable discourse.

David McCabe said...

Portland, OR? We should hook up, maybe.

Tacitus2 said...

My take on things.

Earth gettin' warmer? 99% probable.
Human activity contributing?95% probable.
Human activity sole cause? 50:50, we have had some pretty impressive swings in prehuman times.
Does our current level of understanding show an obvious remedy? Technically-maybe. Politically-not likely.

And despite conspiracy notions, its not just neocons who have hindered energy efficiency. The voting public wants freeways, suburbs, lots of cheap electricity, and to stay warm in the winter cool in the summer. Politicans who cross them, pay.

Its not clear to me if the Brit climate guys were just being ill mannered louts, or academically dishonest in the sense of discouraging contrary views. Either is forgivable but deplorable. If they actually fudged data their careers should be consigned to Dante's Inner Circle, where they can talk about things warming up as much as they want. Won't happen there.

Not that this isolated incident is going to change my mind about the lead in percentages. But, are there perhaps other bits of fudge out there? Given the enormous stakes a bit of scrutiny would not be out of order.

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

Human activity sole cause? 50:50, we have had some pretty impressive swings in prehuman times.

Not at the rate it's currently occurring. (even though human sourced CO2 remains a fraction of natural production, the uptake mechanisms aren't there and... well, I guess you've seen the bathtub analogies!)

Fudged data is always coming to light.

Life is just a bowl of cherries...

David Brin said...

Tacitus, is there any way I can nominate you -- and Rob Perkins -- as some kind of leaders of a New conservatism?

Geez how you guys must feel right now, to see your entire movement so hijacked and betrayed.

Look, I'm sorry. Barry Goldwater is spinning. What you guys need to do is find a Blue Dog... some crewcut ex-general or colonel who took a side masters or PhD in science or engineering and who works with Obama, but makes the lib'ruls grind their teeth, one vote out of every three...

...and cling to that bluedog like a life raft! Really, the happy ending scenario to all this is for today's GOP to be totally put out of its misery and the neocons and know Nothings banished to historical footnotes... and for the Dems to then schism.

No more elephant. Blue... Dog.

Only later. Right now, that undead pachyderm has its trunk around our throats, while it thrashes.
---


You know I'm afraid of? Not Palin. She'd provoke a civil war that her side would simply lose, big.

Huckabee. He is so BLATANTLY a decent guy. Utterly sincere. And batty as heck. All of which describe Ron Paul, too. Total loose cannons. Rupert could never control them. He must lose sleep every time he thinks of them

Robert said...

I've been more than halfway tempted to use my internet handle of "Tangent" here. I mean, we've three Robs here that I've noticed.

As for the Republican party... it's going to do a lot of damage before it finally dies. The reason for this is there are some truly loyal people associated with it who are blind to their own party's misdeeds and all too able to pick out supposed misdeeds of the Democrats. I include a best friend in this mix who so hates the Democrats (thanks to Massachusetts politics) that he refuses to accept the fact that the Democrats may be in fact better than the Republicans, and have a second best friend who has a "gut feeling" that Obama is bad and will screw over the country.

I've parents who refuse to believe in global warming (though how much of that is genuine and how much of that is an inherent tendency toward pushing my buttons I'm unsure of). I've friends who, despite being intelligent and with a decent level of education (some college, no degree) just don't believe the science. I've seen more than one conservative online who feel there is not enough evidence to prove global warming is fact.

And they cannot accept this one concept: fix things now while you still can, because if you wait and find out it's too late, you screw everyone. They claim it would cost too much money and that the new jobs wouldn't benefit them or people who "need" the jobs and all of that BS.

I literally find myself screaming at some of them from time to time (the latest one was one of my best friends where I pointed out Palin's lies about the McCain camp and he proceeded to complain about how the "liberal media" picked apart Palin's book while not doing so to Obama's book... even though I was defending McCain from Palin's libel... *twitches*)

I look at this and have to wonder; why have I not grown more conservative with my friends? What makes me stand out? Why do I see the damage the Republicans have done... and they remain blind to it?

*sighs* The one thing I truly hate about the Shrub is how he made Clinton look good by comparison. But what's worse is that I ended up having to admit an unpleasant truth: Clinton's main failing was character. As a President, he was fairly good, even if he started the dominoes that led to the financial meltdown last year (with Republican assistance).

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

David

You will note I usually describe myself as a conservative, not a Republican. I vote both directions if perhaps 70/30. What I fear is that the Democratic party will devolve in tandem with the regrettable course of the GOP. To some extent we see this in the rise of Indie voters.
Perhaps we shall soon have the mortal remains of FDR spinning at rpms similar to ol' Barry. Of course, one would spin clockwise the other counterclockwise.

Tacitus2

Rob Perkins said...

David, I have little interest in leading a new conservative movement. My interest is in divided government with adult-behavior split-faction power sharing. You know; the thing we don't have today and haven't had for years.

It's hard to feel betrayed by any movement, most of whose members would instantly push you out, the moment your religious persuasion became known. My family were already "Reagan Democrats".

As for Blue Dogs, I'm content today with Brian Baird of Washington, who as a Democrat has a habit, still, of listening to his conservative-leaning constituents and actually voting their consensus against Party lines. That much "Not Stupid" deserves periodic reelection.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just a comment about Global Warming and science
Some people don't seem to understand how science works,
You don't get a Nobel prize for confirming a majority opinion,
you get it for something new,
Something that the majority disagree with.

A paper with good logic and good data showing that everybody is wrong is worth a thousand papers agreeing with the consensus.

And every young hungry scientist knows it.

A yes man may get to the top but it will be a long grind,

The hungry talented youngsters are expending huge energy to find something wrong

The dearth of such papers does show something!

My comparison is the guys with the over unity web sites
Any physicist would sell his mother for such a device
- Nobel Prize for sure

Science thrives on criticism its heroes were the mavericks of their times

One major requirement
They were the mavericks that were supported by information or data!

Tim H. said...

I do think what I'm hearing on climate change looks to combine high cost and ineffectiveness in one untidy package, coupled with the degree of ethical commitment to the data that's been demonstrated,I must continue to doubt. If this is still true, how much urgency is there?
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=103108&org=OLPA
So what if the course I suggest takes longer?, it will be more effective than something that might never be politically possible.

Robert said...

The problem is that at a time when capitalism has taken firm hold of the nations of the world, we've run into a situation where capitalism will run into conflict with doing what is needed for long-term stability. On the surface, green technologies will take a lot of money to build up the infrastructure and industries before it is cost-effective. The thing to look at is long-term costs.

If the worse-case scenarios of global warming are true (and there are hints that we might have underestimated the true threat of climate change, to the point that there will be massive extinctions and significant war over remaining resources before things stabilize), then the cost of stopping global warming is trivial compared to the cost of even attempting to repair the damage caused by rampant global warming.

If the low-ball figures are correct, there is still a significant long-term cost to allowing global warming to happen. Thus it is (over a long-term) more cost-effective to stop global warming, once again.

If we're wrong? We stimulated the economy in a new direction. But look at it as akin to vaccines. We don't know a strain of the flu (such as the swine flu) will be extremely dangerous or not. We don't even know if the vaccines we develop will work on the flu outbreaks (ie, we might get the strain of flu wrong). But if we do nothing? The cost in terms of healthcare, lost productivity, and loss of life is much higher, should an influenza outbreak occur.

The problem is this: if we wait until the science is sure, the cost of stopping global warming goes up significantly. The longer we wait, the higher the cost. Thus it makes sense to shift the economy now to deal with global warming issues than sit on our hands and let things truly get out of control.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

But wait a minute, I'm going on impressions, I don't recall you spelling out what you think the path on climate should be, just that it's so important that collateral damage is acceptable. What do think should happen?

Robert said...

Ice cores have revealed that the Earth's climate once underwent massive extremes on a very regular basis. This has been known for many years. The current configuration of the continents and oceans has helped stabilize the weather patterns (I've read several papers that suggest the uplift of the Himalaya mountain range was significant in disrupting old weather patterns and forcing a more stable weather platform, though I don't recall any of the papers off-hand).

Well, when you add heat to the atmosphere, the atmosphere becomes more active. Which means the more heat is pumped into the atmosphere, the more turbulent and chaotic it becomes. So if global warming goes out of control? Expect more sudden damaging storms, more tornadoes (and in areas not normally prone to them), bigger and nastier hurricanes, more severe droughts, more severe flooding, and resulting diseases, wildfires, and other such secondary problems caused by floods, droughts, and the like.

This would make transit quite difficult (imagine widescale turbulence that can knock large aircraft out of the sky without warning, storms that can swamp the largest of ships, and so forth) and disrupt the global economy. And those nations suffering droughts and famines? They'll go after those nations that have what they need. Widescale war. Considering how many nations now have nukes? How long before nuclear war breaks out?

So. Worse-case scenario is the widescale breakdown of civilization, massive extinctions of wildlife from both natural and manmade causes (overhunting and the like), and eventually a significant reduction of human life from the resultant diseases that come from war and famine.

There will be islands of civilization that remain, often situated near power sources (hydroelectric and the like) that are geographically easily isolated. But mostly we'll see a massive loss of life as humanity kills itself off and mother nature takes most of the rest.

Going over to a less pessimistic note, I found an article over at Geographical magazine on next generation airplanes and biofuels for aircraft. The airline industry at least sees the writing on the wall - increased cost of airline fuel will kill that industry unless they do something fast. They're working on it now it seems.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

In the spirit of being contrary, and saluting Rob Perkins' commitment to a faith that I do not share, let me suggest that it would be a mistake for "liberals" to write off religious people on the matter of saving our planet.

We may need to give them the respect of learning to speak their particular language with, perhaps, a scientific accent. If Green Evangelicals prefer to call it "caring for God’s creation" well, what the heck. The practical goal is the same.

Rob Perkins, can you enlighten me as to whether the Mormon church has a position on AGW?

Rob Perkins said...

Mormons enjoy a specific commandment from God to "till and take care of" the Earth, as a specific kind of hermeneutic stemming from Genesis 2 and some of the things Joseph Smith, Jr. said about the treatment of animals back in the mid 1800's.

It is also a strong sponsor, in the United States, of the Boy Scouts of America, which often doesn't get the credit it deserves for its efforts to teach youth about wilderness conservation, environmentalism, and modes of multicultural respect for others.

That could, theoretically, extend to support for action against trends in AGW. Factually, though, the Church hasn't expressed a specific position on the truth or falsehood of the idea, though what to do about it is likely very aligned with the way the Church teaches its members to live within their means financially (without avoidable consumer debt, for example), cultivate gardens where possible for the purpose of building a store of food, and other such things.

Rob Perkins said...

Whoops, I meant Genesis 1.

soc said...

Soc, he obviously meant "improving it in the right way".

If he wrote 'for the right reason' but meant to say 'in the right way,' I apologize for getting the wrong idea.

The reason I got somewhat worked up about this is that I keep hearing this kind of thing. "Yes we are for managing our environment better but it's too complex and we haven't understood it yet/the computer models are wrong/there's a leftist conspiracy afoot etc." In other words, always some reason as to why we have to wait and not do anything just yet, all the while insisting that they are totally committed to addressing environmental and energy issues.

Remember Michael Crichton's insistence that there is no such thing as a scientific consensus? That only politicians form a consensus? That science is based on evidence not consensus? If they tell you that the majority (of experts) believe something "reach for your wallet because you're being had?"

Now, Crichton is a million times smarter than I ever will be, but is he really saying biologists don't have a consensus about evolution? That physicists don't have a consensus about relativity? That doctors (he was an MD after all) don't have a consensus over what kind of lifestyle is likey to give you heart trouble? Can he really not distinguish a political consensus from the kind of consensus experts arrive at through careful consideration of the evidence?

I'm going to go out on a limb and answer 'no' to that last question. I bet he knew that distinction pretty well.

Here is a guy who insists that he's for all the changes environmentalists are calling for but does nothing but provide ammo for the other side.

Nothing personal against RL but there seems to be a surpluss of characters essentially saying "I'm for improving management of the environment but I think all the people who have expertise in this field are wrong and I know this (even though I don't have a degree in science) because I, like, read this article on the internet by, like, this guy who has his lips tightly clasped on an oil company's teat."

Robert said...

And another interesting link of artist interpretations of what a ring system like Saturn's would look like if it was around the Earth. Unfortunately, the amateur scientist in me says it wouldn't occur because the Moon's gravity would disrupt the ring patterns. I mean, if the Moon can cause significant tidal action on our oceans... imagine what it would do to small particles around our planet.

In addition, the ring would have to be a different material than the ices found in Saturn's ring system; possibly silicon or the like. This would significantly alter the coloration as well, and probably the very texture of the rings.

But hey, the artists had fun with it. ^^

Rob H.

Rob Perkins said...

Wouldn't debris in Earth orbit tend to circle one or more of the LaGrange points defined between the Earth and the Moon, rather than forming in a ring?

Of course, Saturn itself has several dozen moons, but they're all infinitesimally small compared to the mass of Saturn. Hrm... I wonder!

Robert said...

Actually, at one point Earth did have a ring system. And it was probably fairly spectacular. From this ring Earth's Moon was formed (and the process of the Moon's birth above the shattered and molten Earth must have been something spectacular to watch, if you could survive the intense and inhospitable environment that was the early Earth after that last super-massive planetary impact).

In time, Luna cleared away the debris and things calmed down for the Earth. Well, for the most part at least. But it was at the expense of a ring system that was undoubtedly something spectacular to see.

Considering that there is some speculation that Mars once had a large lunar body which eventually crashed into that planet, I have to wonder if that planet had its own ring system... and what happened to all that debris. Did the proximity of Jupiter eventually strip away the smaller matter, until finally a pair of asteroids would be captured by Mars to replace that first lunar body.

Rob H.

Robert Leyland said...

Hey Folks,

This is a good discussion we're having, keeping it civil etc.

A couple of answers:

Duncan said (and I excerpt)
"The dearth of such papers does show something!"

One thing that became clear is that the peer review process for climate science is below par. Both the Wegman report, and the leaked e-mails reveal that the most noxious offenders were also the gatekeepers of the peer review process. Arranging the ouster of editors and reviewers that disagreed with them. Buddy/Buddy peer review, and self congratulatory confirmation. While at the same time playing the - there is no countermanding peer reviewed papers - card. You've been had.

Rob P. -- I do have a degree in science, and I understand enough of the math, and physics behind the papers to know that a lot of the most cited papers and data deries extractions are bunk. Simplest point, when you are presenting a graph of data you don't splice two series together - when one is tree rings, and the other is instrumented temperature - which is what Mann did, and then Jones did, following the same "trick"

On Concensus, soc said: "is he really saying biologists don't have a consensus about evolution? That physicists don't have a consensus about relativity? That doctors (he was an MD after all) don't have a consensus over what kind of lifestyle is likey to give you heart trouble? Can he really not distinguish a political consensus from the kind of consensus experts arrive at through careful consideration of the evidence?"

The problem with that reasoning, is that none of those issues (except may lifestyle/heart disease) were decided by concensus! No, someone figured it out, and others verified it - they verified it by replicating the first guys results, and conducting experiments to test the boundaries. It's how science (and to some extent engineering) work!

My concept of green energy is a combination of nuclear/solar and battery storage systems.

Natural gas is half way decent (burning methane only produces harmless CO2 and water). I am concerned about transport and storage of the fuels involved - pipelines etc.

Oil is iffy because of the sulphur oxides that cause health problems, as well as the transport and support of odious regimes who control the sources.

And coal is the worst because it emits more radioactive junk, and sulphur, and particulates and... on and on - not to mention killing people in mining accidents etc.

Sadly nuclear still has a way to go to be socially acceptable, as it has the right attributes for sustainable power. It's scalable, safe, low maintenance and low impact.

cheers,
Robert

Robert said...

I'm sorry. Did you just say that CO2 is harmless? Perhaps it is, when compared to chlorine gas, but CO2 is deadly in high quantities, even when sufficient oxygen is present. For one historic and scientific example, look at Apollo 13, where they had to juryrig filters for the CO2 scrubbers. The problem wasn't insufficient oxygen. They had plenty. The problem? Too much CO2, which can poison a person.

Now, "diffuse" CO2 might not be toxic... but "diffuse" chlorine gas (in a diffuse enough amount) is also not toxic. So that's not exactly an argument for allowing continued CO2 emissions.

BTW, one of the experiments with using algae to create biofuels found that "supercharging" the fluid in which the algae lived with CO2 helped accelerate growth and productivity. One idea being bandied about is capturing all of the CO2 from coal and oil power plants and liquifying it to store it... and using the liquid CO2 with the algae.

This has the duel benefits of not only removing CO2 emissions from the air (from the power plants) but also allowing a greener fuel source (while the algae won't scrub the atmosphere of its own fuel emissions, it does in essence have a "negative" CO2 footprint as it's eliminating the power plant emissions).

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tim Said:"So what if the course I suggest takes longer?, it will be more effective than something that might never be politically possible."

Tim, will you please stop conflating the issues?

This is not (as you pose it to be) a matter of one side wanting calm, rational progress toward an agreed-upon goal of energy efficiency, while the other side is screeching about, exaggerating and panicking.

No, it is about one side that no longer has a scintilla of credibility, whatsoever -- having spent 30 years doing absolutely everything in its power to PREVENT research or investment or transitional steps or any sort of progress at all, toward energy efficiency...

...all of it with a clear money trail leading to interests who selfishly wanted no such progress, for directly venial and parasitic reasons...

...versus those who MAY have a few exaggerators among them, but who also include nearly all the scientists and adults in the room.

Dig it, your agenda is STILL "don't rush" -- directly obeying the agenda of a Side whose whole agenda was written by exxon and the S'auudi royal house.

Again. IF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IS TRUE, THEN THE SITUATION DEFINITELY IS URGENT.

ND IF IT IS NOT TRUE?

Then for dozens of OTHER reasons -- including some stated aloud by Heorge Bush, it is STILL urgent.

===

Item... there lie, within the permafrost and under the sea floor, vast amounts of methanic hydrates that have already started warming and fizzing out. If they do come out in a cascading blurt, the runaway GCC will be like nothing imaginable. When that happens, I do NOT want it clearly on record that I was one of the millions saying "what's the urgency?"

Frankly, we don't know how angry humanity will be, at that point. But history shows many examples of merciless group blame.

===

Soc... The late Michael Crichton was an amazing character. He was essentially saying "scientists are just boffins. Bright, but they have no business interfering with aristocrats making policy."

R-L: "I do have a degree in science, and I understand enough of the math, and physics behind the papers to know that a lot of the most cited papers and data deries extractions are bunk."

Yes, but you still have the bad habit that has filled the right, of making assertions based upon anecdotes. And that is ALL that these recent scandalous emails are. They show that a few dopes exist on the side that also happens to contain 95% of scientists. Well. sure, that is a powerful anecdote. But it doesn't change the far more fundamental fact...

...that there IS a war between the Republican Party and Science itself. It was fiercely waged, with no prisoners, by the Bush Administration. It is propelled by grassroots know nothings and by aristocratic cheaters. only 5% of scientists now call themselves republicans. And there are reasons for this.

Oh, and that is NOT an anecdote. Nor is the fact that scientific "consensus" is a very real thing.

Yes, it can be toppled, sometimes. But almost always by the brightest graduate students. And those grad students are NOT coming out against GCC. That means that NONE of them see a potential reputation-making chink in the standard model.

THAT is not an anecdote. Nor is the steep burden of proof that is in the lap of those who deny the current consensus.

But far more fundamental is the track record. Thirty years of one side relentlessly crippling all efforts to increase energy efficiency. That is not an anecdote. It is something called treason.

soc said...

@RL
The problem with that reasoning, is that none of those issues (except may lifestyle/heart disease) were decided by concensus!

According to dictionary.com the definition of consensus is as follows:

1. majority of opinion: The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.

2. general agreement or concord; harmony.

According to this definition, things are not decided by consensus, consensus is the end result. Consensus could be arrived at by political negotiation or by the scientific method you describe.

What Crichton did is give people the impression that a consensus among climate scientists is arrived at in the same way that politicians arrive at a consensus. Obviously that's no way to do science. The idea is to get people to think "politics" the moment they hear "climate scientists" and "consensus" in the same sentence. Thereby delegitimizing the scientific credentials of climate science.

The point I'm making is that there is such a thing as a consensus (defined as general agreement or concord) among scientists and that it is different from a political consensus.

In a nutshell: consensus is the agreement you get at the end of a process. The process itself can vary depending on the field.

David Brin said...

Grad students are the litmus test of science. If none of them are zeroing in on a possible reputation-making chink in the Standard Model, then that chink is a glimmer, as yet. Or at best.

Tim H. said...

In the current atmosphere, more like a career ending heresy. The consensus may have to cool off for a generation before it's safe for a grad student to touch.

Tony Fisk said...

...Which is what DB is getting at... stakes and risk assessment!

The first one to conclusively demonstrate that the Earth is hollow will have it made for life (ie until the causative black hole finishes its lunch)

ribletim: medicine for treating climate-deficit syndrome.

Robret Leyland said...

Here's a comment for you, from Linda G. posted on the NYTimes dotearth blog.

If the case for AGW were as incontrovertible as these "scientists" pretend it to be, would these conspiratorial actions have been the least bit necessary? Do Darwinists fudge data and collude to win arguments against Intelligent Design advocates? No, they don't need to. AGW will be remembered as the biggest, most expensive scientific fraud in history.

Sad, but true.


http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/your-dot-on-science-and-cyber-terrorism/?scp=1&sq=Revkin%20CRU&st=cse#comment12

Tony Fisk said...

No. Just sad.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Rob L.

The problem is that, Darwinists ARE frequently accused of conspiracy, just by a slightly different crowd. How many people here in the States don't believe in evolution? A frightening number, I'm afraid. And the arguments against evolution are very similar to those presented here and elsewhere against AGCC. The same goes for the lunar landings. Hell, there's even people who are convinced that the Earth is flat and that all science that says otherwise is wrong, for Heavens' sake. Yet evolution, our trips to the moon, the spherical nature of the Earth, our position in the cosmos, all have the same kind of scientific backing and scientific consensus as AGCC.

Yes, there are a few rude and even unprofessional scientists in that consensus, but when you're talking about almost the entire scientific community, you're going to get some of the unpleasant ones as a matter of course.

Additionally, I find it hilarious that you would applaud and raise on a pedestal those scientists (i.e. almost all of them) who have achieved a scientific consensus on evolution, and then vilify those scientists who have achieved the very same thing on AGCC, even though many of them, if not most of them, are the same people. Atmospherics and evolutionary biology are two very different fields, yes, but where AGCC and the drastic dangers of its effects come into play, both fields, along with a vast array of scientific fields, are very relevant. Those same evolutionary biologists whom you applaud for their scientific consensus on evolution would probably be among the first to tell you have the drastic and devastating effects of rapid global temperature change and the changes and devastation to the global climate that would result.

You also applaud scientists for one scientific consensus, and then mock the notion of scientists, and the degrees and doctorates that those scientists worked long, hard years to achieve, by demeaning this 'other' scientific consensus (which is somehow not the same as the scientific consensus surrounding evolution, or General and Special Relativity, etc., but rather a scientific consensus that is meaningless, and not at all the same thing, even though it is) that these other 'so-called' scientists, who apparently didn't earn their degrees and doctorates, nor have they apparently done any real work in their fields or actually do their jobs.

I could go on, but you get the point. You praise the methods and principles and scientists of one field of science, and then turn around in the very next sentence and ridicule those same methods and principles, and many of the same people, in a field that you disagree with. It's kind of hard to take you seriously when you do something like that. Rather ridiculous and unscientific, I think.

soc said...

Geez, how many times has Dr. Brin repeated this point: you're taking anecdotal evidence over statistics. If a couple of darwinists were to take part in this kind of monkey business would you then declare the whole field invalid?

Rob Perkins said...

Grad students are the litmus test of science. If none of them are zeroing in on a possible reputation-making chink in the Standard Model, then that chink is a glimmer, as yet. Or at best.

How's the grant-making going these days for Cold Fusion research? Any physicist advisors recommending research for an eager postdoc in that arena?

Why not just point out to the deniers that their own Bible predicts global climate change? Malachi 4:1 ought to do the trick...

Tony Fisk said...

The bible also predicts peak oil, or so I heard last weekend.

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Catfish N. Cod said...

Rob Perkins has made the point that I repeatedly hear: that control of funding has limited the amount of research into paradigm-breaking hypotheses, causing in turn the rate of paradigm shifts to slow. This is usually connected to some rant about how a funding source (public or private, depending on the speaker's political philosophy) is stifling scientific advancement.

I never hear a cogent argument as to what's in it for the funder, to continue funding a supposedly dead-end line of research.

Look. Scientific paradigms are NEVER easy to overturn. This has nothing to do with funding and EVERYTHING to do with simple human pride. Lord Kelvin couldn't admit that a force he didn't understand powered the sun. Einstein couldn't come to terms with quantum probabilities. Plenty of biologists have gone to their graves still insisting that viruses or prions couldn't exist.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as Sagan reminded us; but paradigmatic overturn depends on both evidence and on the willingness to receive the sea-change.

As I understand it, climatologists would LOVE to have a new paradigm. They tear their hair out at how vague their predictions are, how wide their error bars must be, how flimsy their historical data points become. So far from not listening, the climate change community would DEARLY welcome anyone who could predict matters better than they.

Ah, but that's not what the self-designated "opposition" seek. They don't want to show *better* data revealing that the Earth isn't warming -- because they don't have it. What they want is to show that the data are insufficient, i.e., that no conclusions can be drawn at all. After all, if no conclusions can be drawn, the only prudent course of action is to "do nothing", "wait and see".

Which would be fine if "do nothing" were the actual default option.

But in fact, humans are not "doing nothing"; they are spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at rates not seen in at least several hundred thousand years. We are horribly ignorant of the short-term consequences of major shifts in CO2 concentrations, but we do know that they are correlated with semi-permanent shifts in the set point of the Earth's thermostat.

As Pournelle says, "This is not an experiment I am especially eager to continue."

"Doing nothing" would entail ending carbon dioxide production (or at least net carbon dioxide production) and then observing the Earth's climate in the absence of confounding variables. But that's the LAST thing the "climate opposition" wants!

The clim-opp attitude is not "do nothing"; it's "don't change technologies". Most of their mass supporters take this position because they're rich enough to have invested in high-carbon tech, yet poor enough not to want to turn it over for better low-carbon tech. (Really poor people will take any tech they can get, high- or low-carbon.) The ringleaders, of course, own or have HEAVY investment in high-carbon tech -- and are unwilling, incapable, or too inflexible to make the paradigm shift.

Catfish N. Cod said...

I have never figured out why scientists are supposed to be part of a socialist conspiracy; unprovoked scientists are generally as apolitical a group as one could wish. (Humanities are a different story; there is a well-known leftward bias in many of these fields.) But it doesn't take any imagination at all to think up aristocratic conspiracies. History is littered with them.

Leninist Communism and the other "scary" "socialist" conspiracies are the bugaboos that Americans have been inculcated again since long before any of us were born. But in every case that I have yet studied, one of three things resulted from such 'plots':

1) The 'plot' was half-baked and died a-borning;

2) The 'plot' was in fact a movement for reform or democratic change; or

3) The 'plot' was in fact a cover for a different group of aristocratically minded thugs.

Into the last category fall not only the entire 'socialist' madnesses of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and so forth, but indeed most corrupt and/or inefficient unions here in the US! Think about how similar the Teamsters were to Tammany Hall and you'll quickly grasp the point.

Now. Climate scientists cannot all be half-baked plotters for world socialism (else the plot would surely have leaked before this), and there is no cabal among them scheming to overthrow the world's governments or economies. Shouldn't we therefore assume that, falliable as they are, they are at the very least sincere?

"Either your sister is lying, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. One: you say your sister never lies. Two: it is perfectly obvious she is not mad. So, for the moment, until further evidence turns up, we must assume three: she is telling the truth." -- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Rob Perkins said...

You should really think of my snark as mild CITOKATE, nothing more. You're correct that politically biased AGCC critics are not dealing fairly with the data we have.

David Brin said...

Tim H said "In the current atmosphere, more like a career ending heresy. The consensus may have to cool off for a generation before it's safe for a grad student to touch."

It always boils down to the same thing, doesn't it? Saying "no urgency" and "calm down" -- which translates to "do nothing so that the oilcos can keep on being vampires on your necks."

Because that is what it has always, does, and will always boil down to.

You still haven't shown me one reason why the entire right should have a scintilla of credibility now, after BOTH saying that energy efficiency and energy independence are crucial national goals AND systematically sabotaging every effort to achieve them. I am waiting.

But let's return to "career-ending heresy". I will grant that there is a lot of heat in this field, right now. But you are judging science by the terms of the right, where there IS hysteria. I have been a working scientist, and I can tell you, if there were a truly dramatic chink awaiting blowing up, some of the brash guys I know would have gone for it.

Robret Leyland said...
Here's a comment for you, from Linda G. posted on the NYTimes dotearth blog.
If the case for AGW were as incontrovertible as these "scientists" pretend it to be, would these conspiratorial actions have been the least bit necessary? Do Darwinists fudge data and collude to win arguments against Intelligent Design advocates? No, they don't need to. AGW will be remembered as the biggest, most expensive scientific fraud in history.

Actually, this is rich. In fact, I know several evolutionists who have given in to the human temptation of fighting rightwing insanity with less-than perfectly appropriate tactics. While that's shameful, the key point is that these examples are cherry-picked as proof by anecdote.

Note also, you are not addressing ANY of my points. You do not even try to deny that the Republican Party has been in a state of direct and deliberate war against American Science, ever since (under Gingrich) they dissolved the Office of Science and Technology Assessment as their VERY FIRST act, upon taking over Congress in 1995.

Catfish, I agree that funding does partially squelch. So? The goppers controlled funding for 15 years. They robbed solar and wind and hybrids to pay oilcos to chase fictitious hydrogen power. They simply GAVE vast grants to the oilcos to "research" their own wells, then acted all surprised when outside audits found we had been cheated of billions of royalties.

Under these conditions, don't you think some dissenters on GCC would have GOT funding, if they had anything... anything at all,,, to work with?

Dig it, the issue is NOT the scientists! The issue is why the right uniformly and perfectly cries "no urgency" -- egged on by a campaign whose money trail leads DIRECTLY to centers of authority that are far more inherently dishonest than the WORST of the doofuses who wrote those emails.

AGAIN? When only 5% of scientists poll as republican... isn't the case on the "war on science" closed? I know a lot of these guys and it took a LOT to make them change their party allegiance.

Do you guys have NO level at which you are willing to recognize that your side has gone... well... as one says about a bad barrel of fish... er... bad?

David Brin said...

Tim H and R-L... please do stay here. We are an eclectic bunch of born arguers. Most of us are angry as hell about what has been done to a progressive and pragmatic and future oriented civilization.

We'll fume at you and demand that you face how badly that civilization, and America... and yes conservatism... have been betrayed.

But we like you. And we do not chace away courteous and CURIOUS disagreers.

Anders Brink said...

Actually, I don't mind doing nothing about climate change. But we must make sure we really *do*nothing*. No more factories, power plants and cars, trucks. No more lights, not even candles.

Let's just do nothing for about 50 years, shall we? :-)

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Robert said...

I've been noticing that there's a lot of discussion on the "cost" of shifting the economy to reduce carbon emissions, and that this "cost" is being used as the latest argument as to why we should do nothing. This is a very valid argument, and one that should be adopted by those of us who believe we need to stop global warming. So let's start coming up with some cost analysis of our own: the cost that global warming will bring.

For instance: what is the cost in damages that will result if the Greenland icecap suffers a catastrophic failure and melts? How much money will insurance companies have to pay to various cities and towns (and private citizens) when the oceans rise as a result?

What will the costs be in ten years? In twenty? In fifty? Let's take the calculations of even just continuing at the current level of CO2 emissions without adding anything, and what the effect on the environment over time would be. Let's also show what the costs will be over time if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unabated.

Added costs will accrue as various cities start building dikes and the like to try and prevent their own flooding. How much would it cost to "flood-proof" our major cities and prevent rising sea levels from leaving streets underwater, and basements full of water?

A war is being waged on the attempt to stop global warming, using the all-mighty dollar as its sword. Two can play at this game. Yes, it's going to cost a lot of money to shift to a green economy and lessen greenhouse emissions. But it's going to cost even more money to not stop this descent into climate madness. This is the biggest chink in the armor of the global warming deniers. Let's use it.

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

I can't tell if this is amusing or frightening (maybe both?)... Apparently, the Republicans are trying to establish ground rules for being a proper conservative within the Republican Party, in order to get funding, support, etc. from the party.

So the next step is a GOP Mind Police force, right?

Shawn H. Corey said...

FYI: The Authoritarians with a free PDF book by Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba.

Courtesy of Boing Boing.

lockswriter said...

My bet would be that the first meat culture will be tuna, not beef or chicken. It's too popular, and the world is running out of it too fast.

Even here, the yuck factor will be very hard to overcome, especially among the health food nuts who would normally be on the side of saving nature (see also: wind farming). The first uses of it are likely to be diet supplements and cat food.

Robert Leyland said...

Ilithi Draogn said:
I could go on, but you get the point. You praise the methods and principles and scientists of one field of science, and then turn around in the very next sentence and ridicule those same methods and principles, and many of the same people, in a field that you disagree with. It's kind of hard to take you seriously when you do something like that. Rather ridiculous and unscientific, I think.

First point, the 'methods' in the climate science arena, as practiced by the major players are NOT scientific. This is my point. They have allowed their own empire building to blind themselves to the fact that they are no longer do science, but instead have become advocates.


David - I am not a republican. I am not a democrat. Please stop asking me to address this as a left/right issue. I am calling you on your own petard here... that some things do not have to be left/right - in this case it is right/wrong (the other sense of right).

On the evidence of climate change - yes the world has warmed up about 0.7C since the turn of the previous century (roughly). We have lots of evidence that shows there has been some warning. Some of that evidence is quite real, some of it is gravy train fabrications.

In order to determine cause, bear with me here, we need to separate cause from effect. ALL the evidence of warming is about effect. There is negligible evidence of cause* - what there is, is all based on computer models, that attempt to show that unknown feedback processes multiply the effect to produce these alarming results.

Now go look at those emails, where the temperature data is manipulated, the paleo data is "tortured" to produce the desired result. The graphs are spliced. These are written by the lead authors of chapters in the IPCC reports. These are the gatekeepers of the 'science'. They suppressed countervailing papers, and colluded to do so.

Western civilization is dependent on science and engineering. To have these guys make a mockery of it, is galling in the extreme.

thanks for your time,
Robert





* yes CO2 is a 'greenhouse' gas, and it's concentration is less than 0.04% of the atmosphere, thermodynamics, basic physics etc can shown that there is a tiny amount of IR reflectivity not swamped by H2O, that might cause a small temperature increase.

Robert said...

Okay. Let us pretend for a second that your assertions are correct and that mankind's involvement in greenhouse gas manufacturing and in global warming is marginal. Does it not behoove us as a species to try and ensure that the climate does not shift and thereby destroy farmland, coastlines, and the like? Is it not in our best interests to prevent this from occurring, using every means possible?

If by controlling methane emissions from farms (quite doable and the methane can be collected and then used by the farms as an alternative fuel for their own needs) and designing biofuels and carbon capture methods for carbon dioxide emissions we as a species can prevent global warming (and the damages that it thus causes), should we not do this?

As for the global climate models, if they are so inaccurate then why is it that pretty much every climate model and climate simulation has revealed that carbon dioxide is increasing heat retention by the planet's atmosphere and in turn causing melting of glaciers and icecaps? Are you saying that tens of thousands of computer simulations are all wrong? Even allowing for the inaccuracies of these simulations due to incomplete levels of data (funny that the failed satellite launch to measure just that information has never been replaced, considering that if it gave accurate information refuting global warming, Bush and crew would have used it), there should be some simulations showing no change or global cooling. Yet they all show global warming, icecap melting, rising sea levels, and the like.

Why is that?

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Can we, in a principled way and based on the methods used, define "science" to exclude climatology and include astrophysics?

I have never seen a scientist actually measure a star in a laboratory; and I am given to understand that so-called scientists fudge their observations using highly questionable "gravitational lenses" and the aptly-named "Red Shift".

David Brin said...

Robert Leyland, I am perfectly happy to retract calling you a Republican... providing you show that that is not just a window-dressing disavowal. Because, in fact, climate change denial has mostly been a strict matter of left-right for quite some time.

Everyone else here will avow to ow deeply I despise the hoary (and french) so called "left-right axis." But it is currently valid PRECISELY to the degree that the "right" has circled its wagons, creating an absolutely lockstep and uniform party line that not one single GOP legislator will diverge from, even to negotiate and improve bills that are supported by most Americans.

Again, you are participating in a cherry-picked torch and pitchfork parade, part of the War on Science that has been a core theme of the GOP for decades.

You have NOT addressed this, not at all. So let me reiterate and then I will NOT repeat it! Scientists used to divide like the population in their political affiliations. Today less than 5% call themselves Republicans. THAT HAS MEANING.

The right's endless campaign to discredit science began with their FIRST act of power, dissolving OTSA and stretched through sabotaging all pertinent energy research and stretches to this cherry-picked "email scandal." ,,,

...which, even if you are "not a Republican" you are buying into, whole cloth.


"Western civilization is dependent on science and engineering. To have these guys make a mockery of it, is galling in the extreme.
"

At one level, sure, the particular cherry-picked doofuses were, well, idiots who deserve to be exposed as such. It was an unscrupulous gotacha but a gotcha nonetheless.

Just as it is loony for koolaid drinkers to use those email examples as areason to discredit science, across the board. Notice RL that THAT is your agenda, here. It fills all your missive.

What? Were you this mad when Bush's guys sent TEN BILLION DOLLARS IN CASH TO IRAQ and LOST MOST OF IT?

By the way, I have treated you with respect, actually reading and answering your points. It is now clear that you are only skimming and not paying the slightest heed to mine. Hence, unless you start discussing the GOP war on science and why you participate in it, I think we are done here.

----

My friend Geoff Landis coffers this:

"GeoffreyL" geoffrey.landis@sff.net   geoffreylandis
Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:02 pm (PST)


Interesting- - here's an article from the Guardian that brings up essentially the same points I'd made here, and also notes how the anti-science arguments of the current crop of cimate-deniers are taken from the creationists' arguments ("unconsciously, " according to Lynas, but I see no evidence that it's at all unconscious) :

"...suggests a dangerous shift in strategy. Instead of targeting the science communicators (myself included), the deniers are now declaring war on the scientists themselves. Like the creationists they unconsciously mimic, they make no distinction between the political and the scientific sphere – it is open season in both. And the strategy is simple. Given that scientists are one of society's most trusted groups (unlike journalists or politicians) , the climate denial movement has begun a battle to undermine public trust in climate scientists themselves."

The actual editorial is here:
http://www.guardian .co.uk/environme nt/cif-green/ 2009/nov/ 23/climate- denial-strategy :

David Brin said...

Has anyone seen my article on "mercantilism" in the San Jose paper?

It may be online at metronews.com


Do tell the URL if you find it.

Robert said...

Here's an interesting article I noticed concerning an unmanned replacement of the Space Shuttle. Considering what the Shuttle ended up being used for, it's a shame the Air Force wasn't allowed to continue with the X-20 project and create a spaceplane of its own... we might have gotten a useful Space Shuttle instead of the Space SUV which currently is used.

Still, depending on the size of the vehicle, this (or a bigger version of it used with the Ares V rocket) could be used for satellite recovery... and if future satellites are built with the idea of in-flight remote repairs, servicing.

Rob H.

Robert Leyland said...

Sigh,

David wrote: Just as it is loony for koolaid drinkers to use those email examples as areason to discredit science, across the board. Notice RL that THAT is your agenda, here. It fills all your missive.

In _every_ post I have made here, I have made clear that the scientific method (hypothesis, experiment/collect data, verify, etc.) is the correct method. Please do not attribute ulterior motives when I express disagreement.

I too decry the RWOS, I have not posted on that simply because I agree with you. The neo-cons are shameful in their treatment of science that does not match their agenda. To your list I think I would add stem-cell research, HIV, and birth control. At the time of the evolution trials a year or so back, I was actively supporting the evolution side in blogs and forums.

In this case, and specifically in this case, the "scientists" are the problem. In is incredibly convenient for them to hide behind the RWOS and simultaneously pull the wool over the public eye. (Jame Hansen is the most egregious here, claiming that he was muzzled, and yet still managing to appear on radio, TV, press release, conferences etc.. give me break).

Look, these are the guys who are writing the IPCC reports!

These are the guys who are suppressing dissenting views, and then claiming there is no peer review that contradicts them.

Who is guarding the guards?


The big difference between the Climate Science scandal, and the anti-evolutionists is this. The theory of evolution has had 5 generations of scientists working with it, under intense scrutiny, and it has survived all attacks.

AGW has had about 20 years of illegitimate, elitist, pandering - overturning the work of far better precedents (HH Lamb would be spinning in his grave over the CRU scandal and the state of Climate Science today). This is less than one generation of scientists.

The shoe is on the other foot here.

cheers,
Robert

Robert said...

Again, Robert, there are significant flaws in your argument. Here's the biggest one: as the developing nations proceed to try and industrialize themselves, there will be significantly higher demands on oil and other fuels. This is a simple supply and demand principle. Thus it is logical that the United States should move away from an oil-based economy because when oil prices go up again (and with a rough economy they're in the $70/barrel range, so imagine what will happen when the economy recovers sufficiently) it will adversely affect the economy. In short, unless we wean ourselves from oil we're going to go through a number of recessions due to high oil prices gouging our economy and destroying productivity.

The best alternative to oil at this point is biofuel (unless we have a breakthrough in battery technology that is inexpensive enough to compete with biofuels). The best form of biofuel is from algae, and the algae grows quickest when "supercharged" with carbon dioxide injections. The best source of carbon dioxide? Possibly fossil fuel power plants (ie, coal). Thus carbon-capture of the CO2 from powerplants is used to grow algae which is turned into fuel which powers our cars which pulls us away from oil. America is weaned from Big Oil (and I'm sure China and Europe would quickly follow suit), allowing oil to be used by the developing nations.

I have just given you a win-win scenario. Who wins? First, the American economy because of the growth of a biofuel infrastructure. Second, environmentalists because CO2 emissions are significantly cut because that CO2 is now a valuable commodity. In fact, it would also benefit the Cap-and-Trade industry in an odd way because now carbon dioxide itself can be traded directly to biofuel producers.

Rob H., who knows Robert Leyland is going to blithely ignore this post because he'd rather troll against environmental issues and climate science than talk about what's best for this country

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim H. said...

What's not to like about biofuels that don't compete with food? OTOH, what's to keep the oilcos from exporting to the highest bidder?

Robert Leyland said...

Rob wrote: Rob H., who knows Robert Leyland is going to blithely ignore this post because he'd rather troll against environmental issues and climate science than talk about what's best for this country

C'mon Rob, this is beneath you.

I don't write about biofuels, because honestly I don't know enough about them to provide meaningful input.

I do write about topics that I understand, and can be reasonable about.

Now that you've tried to topic-jack, do you have anything to say about the unraveling climate science scandal?

cheers,
Robert

Tacitus2 said...

David

Bring something new to the table once in a while. 5% of Scientists are Republicans? Ok, but, ya know, membership in both organized parties is probably declining. Gimme a breakdown on what percentage of scientists, lawyers, Indian chiefs, etc self identify as Liberal/Moderate/Conservative. Or how about, Dem/Indy/GOP. And for sure lets seperate real scientists from social scientists, that would skew them stats!

I have a strong sense that neither party has the monopoly on vice nor virtue these days. Since power corrupts the GOP has truely looked worse of late. But if one were inclined to so do, there is much to lampoon and lambaste about the activities of the current administration.

A while back one of the "hit and run" posters contested my assertion that the media was lock step a PR branch of the Democratic Party. I am starting to think he may be onto something. I have seen a bit more gumption from the Mainstream Media of late. Of course, given their ongoing deterioration of revenue streams it may simply be the laudable desire to die with their honor intact.

Now, no more politics for me until after Thanksgiving. Eat Turkey. Or jet woven pseudomeats!

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

RL said: "I too decry the RWOS, I have not posted on that simply because I agree with you. The neo-cons are shameful in their treatment of science that does not match their agenda. To your list I think I would add stem-cell research, HIV, and birth control. At the time of the evolution trials a year or so back, I was actively supporting the evolution side in blogs and forums."

Very well... then the problem was one of inadequately helping others to calibrate where you are coming from.

Please note that I do that all the time, going so far as to almost compulsively target a dart leftward now and then to make clear that my rightward ones are aimed from the center.

A second advantage of doing this is that it strengthens your credibility.

Fine, you have a right to be more ticked off than I am, about the imperfections of the dorks revealed in the (nevertheless, extremely cherry-picked, out of context and anecdotal) scandalous emails. If boiled down to purity, my reaction is still that they deserve the egg that's on their faces.

Still, the fundamental remains. The main cadre of foes of these guys -- the industry-sized GCC denier community -- is paid for by vampires and is 90%+ directly associated with a relentless war on science, and is based upon the totally illogical premise that lack of perfect proof of ALL parts of GCC constitutes disproof.

As if GCC is even necessary, in order to support the policy moves we need for a myriad other reasons.

Ah, but many of those reasons include freeing us from the guys who are bankrolling the right. See it?

No, the rest of us might listen more, about these egg-on-face dorks... if we did not know that the community who are shining this light (even if it is a little bit legit, this time) weren't absolutely determined to be the villains in the larger drama.

Tony Fisk said...

Still, the fundamental remains. The main cadre of foes of these guys -- the industry-sized GCC denier community -- is paid for by vampires and is 90%+ directly associated with a relentless war on science, and is based upon the totally illogical premise that lack of perfect proof of ALL parts of GCC constitutes disproof.

See also Alex Steffen's remarks on the topic.

Robert Leyland said...

Here's a piece of code that is used in displaying the instrumented temperature record for comparison with tree ring data.



; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
;
yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,'Oooops!'
;
yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)
;



This bit of code, snipped from briffa_sep98_d.pro (and repeated in at least one other file), adjusts the reported temperature artificial deflating the temperature of the 1940s and inflating the recent temperature trends, for graphic presentation.

This is really damning evidence.

From one of the lead authors of the IPCC.

This is where David's CITOKATE, and Transparency meme's should kick in.

thanks,
Robert

David Brin said...

Fine, kick it in! I am all for it.

Just don't complain when your entire correspondence is someday picked through, in order to find some half-ass grumbling rumination of yours (and I'll bet there are plenty) and that used to not only blanket-discredit your credibility but ALL people who happen also to share any of your opinions and/or professional qualifications.

Stop pretending this is Fair and balanced. Culture War and the ROWOS are nothing less than a full-pitch, staggeringly focused and financed and deliberate campaign of treason against our entire civilization.

So far, those guys have damaged the US far more than the Soviets, Nazis and Al Qaeda have, combined. America and everything it stands for has been eviscerated and the planet is in peril.

The feudalists who ruled every other human civilization are pounding at the door... so sorry if we get a bit irritated when you raise and wave one of a million red herrings provided by that industry, to distract from what they are doing.

In this case, the herring may actually be a fish. Big deal.

Tony Fisk said...

NYT on how this might develop. Embarrassing, and a lot of effort wil be expended playing 'whack-a mole', but ultimately no big deal.

Now, to this twig of code. (shades of the SCO deep diving expeditions into that mass of plagiarised code called Linux)

The first thing that strikes me is that the comments should so blatantly refer to fudging (do you think they were trying to tell/remind others about something?)

1998. Bleeding edge! I wonder what the version control change log looks like for this bit.

What lead IPCC author? (We need context, you see: the cherry is connected to... the twig-o, and the twig-os connected to the... branch-o)

Yes, I'm snarky. There's no doubt a lot more of this sort of thing in the pile of cherries, and a lot of it is inexcusably bad science. I don't see anything particularly damning yet.

Interesting point, though. Just where is this mass of incriminating evidence to be found? I've seen lots of commentary, and selected 'damning excerpts'. Nobody seems too keen to provide a link to source, though.

calsated: to be full of cal

Robert said...

I suspect that's for the visual representation of the values (for presenting on a visual graph). You inflate the apparent value of some numbers so that they are visible, while deflating other values so that the graph isn't so large that you cannot easily see it. In short, they're creating a graph that is easier to read and use, but the data itself remains unchanged.

It's very easy to take data you don't understand and determine a worse-case scenario behind the numbers and the phrasing behind it. And the nomenclature changes with different fields; trick, for instance, means one thing in the field of science and something else when talking to a streetwalker (to use an exaggerated example).

BTW, I'm curious if you understand the particulars of scientific method. One aspect behind this is the retesting of data to determine if it is valid. Well, the data has been retested and restested on a multitude of occasions and the results all point to global warming being a real phenomena that the planet is currently undergoing.

So are you saying the data itself is incorrect? Because the results that come from testing the data are pointing to a warming of the planet, with the primary contributing factor being greenhouse gases (of which the largest greenhouse gas increase is with carbon dioxide), while solar input from the time of the Maunder Minimum and present day is 0.1%. Mind you, the Maunder Minimum was hundreds of years ago. So the significant increase in temperatures over the last 100 years cannot be attributed to solar input.

Most carbon dioxide sources have likewise not increased, with the exception of carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transit.

So, if temperatures have increased and it's not because of the sun, and the primary increase of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere) is from industry, power plants, and transit... then does it not follow that these sources of carbon dioxide increases are to blame for global warming?

Another thing to note is this: for hundreds of years the Arctic has been ice-bound for most of the year. For the last few years this has not been the case. We have records concerning this. There were expeditions that went to the North Pole using dogsleds and icebreaking boats, and some of those failed because of the cold weather and ice. Yet the ice is vanishing. Why? Why now?

(It's bad enough that the Pentagon is planning for the Arctic to be ice-free in the future, and of the need to situate a fleet of ships in the far north to counter the planned Russian presence in the Arctic Ocean.)

You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to come to the conclusion that man-made causes are responsible for the changes we're seeing.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Guys! Send traffic to:

http://www.metroactive.com/metro/11.25.09/news-0947.html

Actually, it is a shortened version of a posting that I'll make more formally, in a day or so. STill, clip it and refer folks!

db

Ilithi Dragon said...

Glad to see a piece on that view that I can link others too, Dr. Brin.

A quick note, though, I think you made an error in the 8th paragraph, when you first start talking about Mr. Wu Jianmin. You say his "observations about merit close attention." It looks like you omitted what his observations were about.

Robert Leyland said...

David B

Nice article.

RobH - your first paragraph reads like complete spin. The adjustments are not for visibility scaling, they are obfuscating. There are many hidden assumptions in the remainder of your post, that reduce your logical flow.

1/ the arctic is NOT on track to be ice free. The northwest "passage" has been navigable many times in the past. We surfaced subs under the north pole in the 1950s.

2/ Solar influence has been "hand waved" away. The level of understanding about the Sun is relatively low. Our solar experts did not predict the current run of low sunspot activity, which comes after a period of sustained high activity (see Solanki et al).

3/ "bleeding edge" yep, pretty funny, there's a lot of Fortran77 code being used in 1998, when C++ is the language of choice in the programming world.


The actual cause of climate change, has yet to be determined.

IMHO humans are very likely to have a small part in it, but the primary driver will be linked with the Sun.

Whatever it turns out to be, one result of the current scandal is that the results will be far more accessible.

cheers,
Robert

Robert Leyland said...

Doh,

I misattributed part of that to RobH sorry.

Also the emails can be reviewed here:

http://www.eastangliaemails.com/index.php

There are ftp sites containing the full .zip file, of emails, code, and data.

I also recommend reading the Wegman report:

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/07142006_wegman_report.pdf



cheers,
Robert

Robert said...

It is easy to brush aside facts and simulations as "spin." It's also easy to misattribute data that you do not have all of the facts on and claim it is something it is not. You accuse me of spin. But you are spinning e-mails to fit your view of climate change as hokem.

Answer me this: what if you're wrong, and global warming is not only real (and a result of mankind's actions through industrialization) but is occurring even as we speak?

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Thanks for reference, Rob (I've since found it in wikileaks as well)

Umm, *the* cause for global warming? There are a number of factors in play. We don't know it all. We know enough to know that sitting on the sidelines is not an option.

CO2 *is* a major factor.

1. We've known for over a century that CO2 has a potent effect on heat retention in a gas mixture (don't be fooled by the ppm levels).

2. CO2 levels are currently rising at an unflinchingly steady rate of 1-2 ppm per year (The NOAA data from Mauna Loa observatory is precise enough to show seasonal variations as plants grow and wither.. or has the NOAA data been compromised as well?)

3. We are now 10% over the touted 350ppm (passed in 1990) At the current rate, expect Jurassic levels to be surpassed by the end of the century (levels previously achieved over geologically significant timescales, not in a couple of centuries. No time to adapt)

5. I haven't even started on the acidification effects.

6. Wherever all this CO2 is coming from, expect it to have an effect.

7. Expect responsible people to want to do something about it, and get increasingly annoyed with the la-la brigade.

8. Who would have the time, the resources, and the energy to want to comprehensively lie about the weather?

Ilithi Dragon said...

I do not in any way profess to be an expert on GCC, but a very good friend of mine*, who is a conservation biologist in training, is, and he has participated in enough global warming 'debates' on the forums that we both frequent for me to have accumulated some peripheral knowledge and experience. Through all of those instances (which are frequent enough for my friend to have become famous/infamous for his multi-page essay responses) I have personally yet to see any argument against GCC that does not boil down to some form of a 'Global Socialist Agenda (TM)' and a conspiracy carried out by pretty much the entire scientific community.

Rob L. your argument here is a false dichotomy. Your argument, from what I understand, is basically that because these select few scientists' private correspondence supposedly lacked professionalism, etc., therefore ALL scientists involved in studying and researching AGCC are incriminated and all of their work and research is invalidated. You cannot judge ALL climate change scientists based on the faults of these select few.

*I have been linking him here to this blog for some time now, in the hopes that he would join in on our various discussions, and while he is reading the blog, I haven't poked him enough to add to the discussion himself (and he literally groaned and facepalmed when I linked him to this particular discussion thread).

I will try to get my friend to post here, because this is in his field of expertise, and he has the knowledge and handy resources to properly debate the issue.

V. Fan Attic said...

Re: test tube meat... I have a cheaper, easier solution. Maybe we could just stop eating meat. Kids who are raised vegetarian usually throw up when they try to eat meat.

TCB said...

Yep, that's Dr. Brin's article:

Power of Consumption

How we Americans spent ourselves into ruin—
but saved the world

By David Brin

TCB said...

Refer upthread to Shawn H. Corey's link to The Authoritarians. I read that book online a few months ago. It's GREAT.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ V:
The problem there is that the human physiology isn't well suited to a purely vegetarian diet. My new roommate is a vegan, and she has to take vitamins, because she can't get enough of all the vitamins and minerals her body needs from vegetables alone. Sure, plants could probably be genetically modified to compensate for that, but is that really any less effort than inkjetting vat-grown muscle tissue?

On The Authoritarians: I started reading it after it was linked here, and I'm about half-way through now. VERY good book, and a lot of it coincides with many of Dr. Brin's points.

David Brin said...

Reiterating.

1. Even if GCC is entirely wrong, we are best off acting as if it is true.

2. In any event, the same actions needed in order to stave off GCC are needed in order to seek national energy independence, economic efficiency, new industries for America to innovate and dominate, an end to cash flows to cultures that desire our death, and freedom from international coercion. In other words, we should act exactly that same way even if we IGNORE GCC as completely irrelevant.

3. GCC deniers may be able to scramble and find some minor some points, but their mental processes are utterly flawed macroscopically, since they -

-confuse anecdote for statistical proof

- share with creationists the position that if any portion of an entire scientific system can be showed not to be yet proved, the entire edifice is false

-seek to discredit science in general as a source of consensus models of the world

- especially seek to prevent scientific consensus from influencing policy

4. Above all, GCC -denial is inextricably linked to a particular "side" in a bona fide American Culture War. People line up on that side in near-perfect lockstep correlation with other loyalties. And it happens that that Side has no credibility left.

It has pushed nonsense down our throats for decades, promoted monumental mismanagement and towering degrees of outright theft. Its disdain for truth makes the "email scandal" a case of an entire coal mine calling a teaspoon black.

5. Although issues should be decided on their merits, and I am willing to avow that human generated climate change is not absolutely proved, the very notion that we must wait for absolute proof, before taking urgent ameliorative measures to reduce the harm is silly to the point of verging upon psychotic.

Were Human Generated GCC-deniers sincere, they would say "Okay, I am in favor of urgent measures toward energy efficiency regardless of whether HGGCC is true. So let's quadruple the research budget, subsidize sustainables to get their momentum up...

"...and then argue over WHICH method to reduce carbon will combine reducing our dependence upon foreign oil and increased energy efficiency WITH satisfying your silly-ass worry about rising seas... all with minimum impact on employment... (while leaving out ANY consideration of what's good for Exxon. And I'll bring a good energy saving idea to the table, for every one that I object to!

"Oh... and I admit that conservatism should go back to 'a penny saved...' and 'a stitch in time...' and 'cleanliness is next to godliness...' and all the other standards that the recent version has flushed down the toilet."

THAT is what sincere HGGCC doubters would say.

Oh, they'd add. "And I am also doing this so that I won't be blamed, sued, or hunted down for obstructing, if it turns out that the Earth DOES suffer, because conservatives dragged their feet on this."

TCB said...

Cross-post of what I wrote over at Boing Boing about Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians":

I read this book a few months ago, can't recall exactly how I came across it. A few observations:

Bob Altemeyer is at the U. of Manitoba. He lives in Canada, i.e. he's not a Yank.

I found that he frequently held back from stating conclusions I would have gone ahead and leapt to. He doesn't overstate his case. He notes that there are not pure authoritarian personalities and pure non-authoritarian personalities, but that most people show at least a trace of it.

Farther into the book he recounts an experiment where about 150 people took the personality test and were divided into the higher scorers and the lower scorers. Then each group of 70 or 80 went into a gym with a world map on the floor and did a global strategy game that lasted a few hours. The less authoritarian crowd dealt with global warming and kept the peace, though there was some starvation. The high scorers had a global war when Russia attacked the US, killing everyone in the world. The referees turned off all the lights and explained what life would be like after a full nuke exchange, then rewound the clock a bit. The Russians then attacked China instead, killing a lot of people but not everyone. That's the authoritarian's idea of learning from past mistakes.

The most fascinating comment Altemeyer makes is that authoritarian attitudes are rooted in FEAR. The more you believe "It's a dangerous world," the more authoritarian you'll tend to be; and I have heard these exact words from more than one conservative politician, Newt Gingrich for instance.
The irony here, of course, is that if you think "It's a dangerous world," you go around making it so.

End crosspost.

Reading Dr. Brin's article, I thought about my own factory job of two decades ago, where they often talked about W. Edwards Deming, the American product quality guru who was much revered in Japan. The wiki link I just provided gives a decent overview of his philosophy, which the Japanese found so congenial. I guess the reason I think f Deming is that although US import policies encouraged consumers to spend heavily on goods made in Japan, and eventually China, an essential part of that shift is that US consumers lost their distaste for "cheap, shoddy, Made In Japan" goods. Those goods quit being cheap and shoddy, indeed ended up being superior to much of what was made here.

Which is a whole nother subject. Why was the engine layout in my Toyota so much more elegant than that of my Plymouth? I could reach right down and change the oil filter on the Toyota, while the one in the Plymouth was near impossible to do. It's not that the US engineers were stupid. It's that their bosses probably didn't give them time to work out the very best arrangement. More important to design gaudy trim or something. Which speaks to organizational priorities; it's something we see now in China having decided to go gung-ho (a Chinese phrase!) after developing green technology while the US dawdles.

dves said...

to Robert through Doh,

thanks too. I reviewed it and also help me what I wanted for. More power.

Tim H. said...

The question on AGW was "How big a deal is it?", simulations were run with very little transparency, which predictably raised suspicions. Now, the suspicions have been confirmed, the underlying data was tortured to insure the simulations would cause a sense of urgency. Disturbingly, this does not seem to upset true believers. More disturbingly, no visible urgency to dig into the data and see what it might mean, which could happen while we are building replacements for coal burning power plants. I've heard that increased energy efficiency would be an unmixed blessing, but if energy prices increase a lot to do it, it will be a very big deal for people who see a lot of their income going to energy already. People who have been hammered fairly thoroughly by "free trade" and globalization. People who are being told they must make expensive changes, based on compromised science. No need for amoral oilcos. or dark rethuglican plots to provide motivation here. More like chemotherapy on a benign tumor is how it looks to non believers.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Umm... I thought all the AGCC research, etc. was made freely available to anyone who asked? What lack of transparency is there here? Yeah, it's not necessarily easily accessible to every person, you have to do a lot of research to get the whole picture, but that's because there is so much data available to go through, and not because of any lack of transparency that I am aware of.


Also, to those denying the claims of AGCC, aside from stating it's all bunk and that the AGCC 'scientists' aren't 'scientists', etc., can you actually present evidence that counters the AGCC claims that global temperatures have been steadily rising at an extremely rapid rate (from a geological standpoint - past global temperature changes have occurred over a span of thousands of years or more, not less than two hundred), that this rate corresponds to the increasing level of greenhouse gases, that correspond to the amount of pollution dumped out by fossil fuels, etc., and that the temperature change is directly caused by those increases in greenhouse gases? Do you have actual evidence to counter the data and correlations of data presented that point to all of that? And not just an anecdote here or there, but actual refutational evidence? Because the burden of proof is on the AGCC deniers right now. Valid or not, the AGCC scientists have presented their data and evidence, and it is now the AGCC-deniers' move, it is their turn to present counter-evidence. I have yet to see any actual verifiable data to that effect.

Robert said...

And in the latest news, East Antarctica is losing ice now. This was the one region that wasn't losing ice (and indeed had been growing until a couple years ago). The exact amounts are not known because the measurements used in that analysis have a margin of error that is significant (but despite that margin of error, there is definite loss still going on).

Why is this important? Because if this ice melts in its entirety, then ocean levels won't rise the expected three feet that Greenland and West Antarctica would bring. No. We're talking 200 feet of ocean rising. We're talking the widescale rewriting of maps. We're talking the midwest being a huge bay, the complete loss of Florida, and billions of humans being forced to live in a region rather smaller than what we once lived in.

Naturally this will result in widescale war because those regions further up? Won't want all those refugees moving in.

The timescale of the loss is not known, but the loss of Eastern Antarctic ice will undoubtedly accelerate. In 100 years, we could have significant flooding of regions. We could see ocean levels rising tens of feet at least.

Does it truly matter at this point about the precise numbers used in climatology? Does it truly matter how much man is involved in this? What matters is this: stopping global warming and preserving the current status quo of the coastlines and the like.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

The numbers are extremely important here, there hasn't been anything like the degree of transparency needed. Proponents have threatened to destroy raw data, rather than allow access to doubters. Did Michael Mann ever release his "Hockey stick" algorithm? You need to think about how this looks outside the circle of believers, here's one of the milder perspectives, from a blogger who wants energy independence, and sees no good reason to increase the carbon dioxide levels : http://jerrypournelle.com/view/2009/Q4/view598.html#climategate

Robert said...

It actually makes sense that some of the data is being hidden from scientists, but for a different reason than you might think: selfishness. We're talking about people who are looking for recognition on their work. They want the Nobel Prize and grant money and all of that. So then, what happens if they release their data and some upstart young genius takes that data, comes to a sudden realization, and writes up some paper that the original scientists either didn't think of or are not yet sure on?

That young upstart just stole the prize.

These scientists are not trying to bamboozle people, especially as climate data can be had from multiple sources. Instead, they don't want their hard work benefiting someone else in their field to their own detriment.

There are multiple occasions in scientific history where someone else makes a discovery... but someone at a more established location or with better contacts or even more luck is the one recognized for the discovery. The people who are attributed for the discovery have their names in the history books. The people who likewise discovered it but didn't gain recognition for their discovery in time? Are mentioned in footnotes.

Rob H.

BCRion said...

3/ "bleeding edge" yep, pretty funny, there's a lot of Fortran77 code being used in 1998, when C++ is the language of choice in the programming world.

*roll eyes* If this is a major point of criticism, you really have nothing. Last I checked, F77, if coded correctly, gives just as correct answers as C++, Java, Python, etc. I'm sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine. I happen to work on a large-scale globally used piece of scientific software, so I know a little bit about this. We face this criticism all the time, and it almost always comes from people who have either never actually worked on a large and complex software project or have worked in an environment where budgets are far less limited or standards are far less demanded.

Sure, in an ideal world we would all magically convert our computer codes to the latest and greatest languages. Unfortunately, for these very complex simulations, millions of dollars have already been sunk in code development, validation, and verification. The programmers needed are of high caliber: they need programming skill, a deep understanding of the science and the theories behind it, and knowledge of the finer points of the numerical methods employed to solve the problems. This combination of skills is usually only found in people who have a PhD. These people are expensive. Throwing a bunch of bright high schoolers at the problem is unacceptable. There are far too many gotcha's and subtleties.

Over 100,000 lines of code would need to be rewritten, and need to be revalidated again. This is not cheap, and the question is, who pays? Scientific projects typically do not have the vast streams of revenue that Microsoft or Google enjoy. In a world of limited resources, may as well take what you have (that you are confident in) and extend that to do new science rather than reinvent the wheel.

So yeah, you can whine about their use of older languages; however, unless you are going to front a few million dollars (it's rare for the funding institutions to allocate money for this) to port the code over and have it tested, it is just mere poo pooing rather than a legitimate criticism. Believe me, most people who actually work on the codes would love this.

Rob Perkins said...

Fortran is still in use. I maintain about 30,000 lines of it, which takes the form of the high-performance portions of the simulator my company licenses and maintains.

C++ is a lexical, semantic, and syntactic travesty. These days it's the poorest of all possible programming language choices.

Rob Perkins said...

Except for Perl, which should never, ever have been invented in the first place.

LarryHart said...

From Dr Brin's "mercantilism" article:


...
Marshall, MacArthur and Truman lifted their prostrate foe, first with direct aid. And then, over the longer term, with trade.

I am not downplaying the importance of Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Chinese and Indian efforts to uplift themselves through the hard work of hundreds of millions who labored in sweatshops making toys and clothes for U.S. consumers.
...


Heh. Leave it to David Brin to phrase this in terms of "Uplift". Did the Asians uplift themselves, or did they have patrons?

Sorry, carry on.

Robert said...

Which of course leads to this classic comic:

Compiling!

=^-^=

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Robert Leyland concluded...

"...the arctic is NOT on track to be ice free...."

...supporting this with the following assertions...

"...The northwest "passage" has been navigable many times in the past. We surfaced subs under the north pole in the 1950s...."

Neither assertion is probative as to conclusion; even if true, they would not prove that the Arctic is not heading toward ice-freedom.

In addition, when USS Skate (SSN-578) became the first vessel to surface at the pole (17 March 1959), she did so by breaking through ice.

Finally, the first transit of the northwest passage (1906) took 3 years. The next passage was not accomplished until the 1940s. Passages have become more numerous in recent years, as icebreaking becomes more efficient and the ice recedes. Without those two factors, the northwest passage has not been navigable within human history.

Tim H. said...
"... Proponents have threatened to destroy raw data, rather than allow access to doubters..."

You are not citing to actual evidence for this; you seem to be repeating a conclusion by formed by others about the meaning of a stolen email thread which, as I have read it, expressed concerns about IPR, not about disclosing data to doubters. (After all, all the doubters have to do is produce their own temperature measurements; it's not as if there's a monopoly on temperature data.)

If you have evidence that the concern was something other than IPR, please link to the message itself, or at the least quote it.

Ilithi Dragon said...

As a (former) programming major, I would like to reinforce that it doesn't really matter what code the program is written in, so long as the code is actually written correctly (i.e. no coding errors). One language is not 'more correct' than another language, computer programming just doesn't work that way. Both programs will give you 2 + 2 = 4, not 2 + 2 = 4.1 or 3.5. The basic difference in code is really just its versatility and programmer-friendliness.

C++ is also hardly the sole dominant programming language. The school I'm switching away from focused on C++ and C#, but later classes would include Java, BASIC and other languages, and there are are plenty of other programming languages in common use today, both new and old, besides just C++.

soc said...

In what category would you put the Ron Paul-type libertarians you see on www.Lewrockwell.com? Are they part of Culture War or some odd ball third faction? They're just as convinced as the culture warriors that climate change is a hoax but don't seem to be of the Sarah Palin crowd either.

David Brin said...

At least Tim H is now, at last trying to argue:

but if energy prices increase a lot to do it, it will be a very big deal for people who see a lot of their income going to energy already. People who have been hammered fairly thoroughly by "free trade" and globalization.

The right often does this... raises a talking point that sounds reasonable... even compassionate, till we recall that these folks did NOTHING for the poor during their tenure in office, except continue 30 years of promises that giving trillions to the rich will trickle down, somehow to those who need it.

This kind of general arm-waving masks a complete lack of interest in what should be the real argument, over WHICH urgent measures to use, to seek energy efficiency. If you liken carbon taxes to "chemotherapy for a benign tumor" then what about vastly expanding energy research? Is THAT "chemotherapy"? Tell us about how the side that doubts HGGCC has pushed for that alternative approach...

...oops... they haven't. They have obstructed technological research, savaged the science budgets and diverted what little was left directly into oilco pockets.

Um... some talking points would be valid, if there were a scintilla of credibility left for that side. But there is not. The money trail tells all. Tim cut your association with traitors.

You are tationalizing thet the 95% of scientists who now despise that "movement" are more foolish that the parasites and numbskulls on your side of the aisle on this one.

Robert said...

I love how global warming deniers claim "it will cost too much!" to shift to a green economy. Yet they never mention the cost should global warming continue unabated. Do they honestly believe they will be unaffected? Or do they believe God will perform the Rapture and take them to Heaven while us Unbelievers and non-Republicans are stricken into Hell forever (or worse, left to rot in the cesspool that the Earth became due to their inaction)?

Or do they believe they can build new homes on the mountaintops and hire enough armed guards to drive off the masses when global warming happens and floods the world? Do the deniers believe their "overlords" will protect them and bring them along to a new promised land?

How loudly will they scream "why didn't you do something?!?" when global warming is revealed to be real and that if we'd acted 20 years ago (or even now!) we could have stopped it?

There is a concept called "preventative medicine" in which people are treated to prevent diseases. Preventative medicine costs less than treating the actual diseases (take fluoridation of water to reduce cavities as one example). Efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions such as carbon dioxide is preventative medicine on a planetary scale (and will even have a positive influence on human health according to more than one study).

So. Would you rather pay a bit now? Or a hell of a lot more later?

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

Darn it Rob, you make me back track on the no politics promise!

At its BEST Preventative medicine saves money. Vaccines, flouridation and such. But it has pretty conclusively been shown that not all preventative medicine saves money. The current dust up over mammogram screening is a good example. A certain rather small number of lives saved at the cost of a much larger number of mammographic abnormalities, biopsies, the occasional anesthesia mishap, etc. Less of a problem in an environment of unlimited resources. But if you can have either aggressive mammogram screening OR childhood immunizations, make the right choice.

Preventative medicine, and by extention, aggressive screening and treatment, without question enrichs the providers of such services.

And David, I believe you are correct when you elsewhere describe indignation as an intoxicant. Rather than taking note of my suggestion that you give us more meaningful discourse you are ramping it up. Now instead of 5% of scientists being Republicans 95% despise Republicans! A friend, and I presume to consider myself as such, tells his buddy who has had a few too many and is hollering at the other bar patrons....come on DB, time to switch to black coffee.

NOW I am done until after a full belly of turkey.

Tacitus2

Stuart said...

I'd say the two most popular enterprise programming languages are Java and C#, not because they are superior at producing answers, but because they insulate programmers from common errors and security considerations. Older languages actually tend to be faster, because they were developed in an environment where resources were the main limitation.

If you have low processing requirements but lots of business logic complexity that must be maintained by dozens of programmers, use a modern language. If you have to crunch bazillions of numbers on a low budget with PhDs, use an old one.

Tim H. said...

David, the expense for working people has always been my objection. rewinn the information you asked for is here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/13/cru_missing/
Would be something if climatologists would open source their data for anyone to look at. Enjoy the holiday, it's time to make cookie dough.

Stuart said...

@soc

My guess is that the LewRockwell crowd wants to discredit climate change because the use of government power would be the only way to manage it. Some right-talk seems to imply that climate change is an excuse for the government to grab the power that would be needed.

I view Lew Rockwell with a raised eyebrow. Social liberty doesn't seem to be their main focus, or the focus of many Libertarian groups. When they talk about decentralized power and how the federal government should stay out of our business, it reminds me more of George Wallace than the ACLU.

soc said...

Ah, yes I remember something about the global warming 'scare' being a plot to usher in world government. It seems they oppose or support something purely based on whether it expands or contracts government. All else is irrelevant.

To their credit they acknowledge the expansion of government and waste of money that took place under Repub admins. Of course, this means their recruitment drive is now aimed at dissaffected Republicans who feel betrayed by their party. I trust Ron Paul gets most of his supporters from there.

soc said...

Oh yeah, one more point: Their obssession with the size of government, which leads them to dismiss global warming regardless of the evidence for it, makes them standard dogmatists.

Dogma takes precedence over contrary evidence. That hardly puts them on the side of the enlightenment.

However, in the near term, they are probably more of a problem for the Republican party as Ron Paul poaches the GOP's voters. That should make a coherent political opposition on global warming all the more difficult down the road as the right gets into a bit of a civil war of its' own.

Robert Leyland said...

David B wrote: Were Human Generated GCC-deniers sincere, they would say "Okay, I am in favor of urgent measures toward energy efficiency regardless of whether HGGCC is true. So let's quadruple the research budget, subsidize sustainables to get their momentum up...

Which I think sums up my position on energy quite nicely. Except that I really detest your use of the word denier - it make me think you are in the crazy left wing echo chamber.

On AGW I am most upset about the damage these fools are doing to capital S - Science.

If it were just a few hacked e-mails, I'd agree - no big deal - but this is the result of a pattern of deception, prevarication and yes, scientific fraud. The e-mails have brought it to light a lot earlier than I thought it would happen.

On F77/C++ - I'm a professional computer program. I learned to code in F77 in high school in the early 1970s, and have been programming in C++ for the last 10+ years, with 10 years C before that. It takes a lot of work to produce good code in any language, some languages are a lot more "helpful" than others. F77 is not a helpful language :-)

Rob H - there are only a few climate models, they make lots of simulations (i.e. runs), they are also fairly closely related in that there a common programming methods, people and routines used. They share a set of common assumptions.

I do agree CO2 has been increasing over the last 30 years. However temperature does not correlate well with CO2 - that is a big part of what's been revealed in this scandal. The CRU group (likely amongst others) has been manipulating data, and presentation to make the case appear stronger.

Why does this matter?

Well aside from the trivial issue of the subversion of science towards a cause.

It matters because if we focus on CO2 we waste a hell of a lot of effort on a non-problem.

Yes, please, quadruple the budget on energy research - but don't cripple the projects with foolish limitations - like reducing CO2.

cheers,
Robert

Tony Fisk said...

The e-mails have brought it to light a lot earlier than I thought it would happen.

Presuming a result, here? (Eh, don't worry: it goes on a lot in all fields!)

My point wasn't actually the use of F77, but the date: what has happened since 1998? Also, the comments blatantly state 'FUDGE HERE'! Was this a brag (as I suspect some trolls will assume), or was it simply to flag it to others? That would require the associated comments to determine, not just one cherry.

Fortran is hard work, but has a large body of existing applications that work well, so don't fix 'em (esp. on the average lab budget)

C++ is hard. It's saving grace these days are templates (although, having spent a while with python and PHP, coming back to a C++ environment that uses PIMPL and boost libraries makes you realise just how far the semantics of the language have to be stretched (all those colons! Modern languages give you PIMPL and shared pointers without you even noticing)

Of course, you can have your cake and eat it with interfacing glue apps like 'swig'.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Rob L,

Do you have any data sources to back up your counter-claim that CO2 isn't a significant influence in climate change?

Corey said...

Hey guys, I'm a friend of Ilithi's (he mentioned me earlier). He said there was an interesting conversation going on here, so I thought I'd toss in my two cents. Let me apologize in advance for the length of my comments. unfortunately, the complexity of climate science is such that the subject is not conducive to use of sound bites.

Rob L, it's kind of hard to address or even give any consideration to your arguments when you're not actually giving any reasoning behind your claim that CO2 isn't a significant contributor to climate. It seems like your entire argument is "CO2 doesn't affect climate... because I say so".

CRU is not "manipulating data", anymore than NASA or NOAA, or the Royal Society or the NAS are, and if your entire line of reasoning against the idea that CO2 has a significant impact against climate is to be a completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory against the entire scientific community (no, the leaked CRU emails do not suggest what is being claimed by many), then this should be fairly easy.

First, let's take a look at the claim that CO2 and temperature don't correlate. Here's data from the NCDC showing temperature and CO2 right here (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/temperature-change.html). I'd say that's a pretty strong correlation. You'll note that co2 isn't acting as an independent forcing here, but rather as a feedback within climate. Initially, it's actually temperature which is driving CO2, something that happens because oceans absorb less CO2 as they warm, though the relationship clearly changes as the temperature increase moves along, and CO2 and temperature begin to match up absolutely perfectly. CO2 doesn't initiate the warmings, but rather merely enhances them, and again, that effect is not difficult to see.

This, of course, should be no revelation because physics says this is what an increase in CO2 should do to temperature. Again, this is why it's hard to evaluate a statement that CO2 doesn't affect temperature "just because", as all conventional science says just the opposite, so it's hard to know what particular claim of cause and effect are being made here.

A common skeptic claim on this subject is that water vapor is responsible for 98% of the greenhouse effect, and therefore CO2's effect is insignificant, but this claim comes from taking the effect water vapor would have if it was the only gas in the atmosphere and comparing the maximum effect it could have to the observed greenhouse effect, and then doing a simple subtraction problem to get the supposed remainder from other gases. The problem with this approach is that it completely ignores the fact that many greenhouse gases have overlapping wavelengths of absorption. In fact, by this logic used by skeptics, CO2 could actually be responsible for over 30% of the greenhouse effect by itself. As 98 and 30 obviously come to well over 100%, clearly taking the maximum effect of one gas and assuming the others are only responsible for the remainder is not a very good way to go about calculating forcings and feedbacks within climate.

Corey said...

One can also look at the fact that at the same time CO2 levels are at an unprecedented level for the past 450,000 years (at least), being at 390ppm presently, that our temperature is also skyrocketing. Just since the 1960s, global temperature has gone up .5C, as seen in both the GISS (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/Fig1.gif) and CRU (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/nhshgl.gif) data sets. By contrast, warming during interglacial periods (the largest natural known changes observed) show changes of about 5C over about 10,000 years. That puts the change during interglacial periods at about .005C per decade, while our recent observed change is .1C per decade, or roughly TWENTY TIMES as strong as the greatest known natural warming.

This also shouldn't be a surprise, because scientists were saying the Earth would warm during the 1960s and 1970s (popular to contrary belief, on the media was talking about severe global cooling). Those scientists were right. General circulation models have even been able to predict, with reasonable accuracy, the magnitude of that warming. Hansens 1988 projections matched up rather nicely in the decadal scale to what actually took place. Of course, since then such models have been predicting all sorts of features of climate, such as the effects of the '91 Mt Pinatubo eruption on temperature and global water vapor.

Scientists told us the Earth would warm, and they were right, and now skeptics are telling us that these scientists somehow have no credibility in predicting global temperature. I, for one, would be inclined to listen to the scientists who have been right consistently before.

There's also the matter of the fact that there's presently no alternative to human GHG contributions to explain recent observed warming. The sun certainly isn't doing it. You can see right here (http://www.pmodwrc.ch/tsi/composite/pics/comp06_d41_62_0906.png) that solar output hasn't changed outside of normal 11 year cycles since records were being kept by satellite starting in 1978. Spencer's favorite, the PDO explanation, doesn't work either. The PDO doesn't presently operate in any kind of tend (http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fed/oeip/ca-pdo.cfm), and wouldn't explain *net* warming even a 30 year cycle existed, and so one can't really call it a forcing, and since we don't know what's driving it as a feedback (for all we know, it could just be temperature driving the PDO), that leaves skeptics at square one in explaining the warming, because they can't come up with an underlying mechanism for the PDO to affect climate.

There's also the fact that no climate model has even successfully modeled present climate change without taking anthropogenic carbon emissions into account. It's been tried, and no successful attempt has ever been made.

Given all of these facts, and given just how strong the consensus is between all the world's authoritative scientific organizations and pretty much all of the individual scientists(97% of climatologists reported agreeing that humans caused global warming in a poll featured in the journal Natural History), I'd say that one can conclude pretty reasonably that the entire scientific community is not engages in some massive conspiracy theory to hoax the planet.

To quote Real Climate on the CRU leak, "More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though."

Again, let me apologize for the volume of information here. I hope the information is useful.

Tony Fisk said...

It occurred to me that DB's comments about eager young PhDs would apply as easily to eager young cub reporters.

Hi Corey, thanks for bringing a cherry tree with you.

Tony Fisk said...

... ie instead of just the cherries!

nuffbon: a spongy pad for use when bashing head against wall

David Brin said...

Next post is up!

It's a big 'un!

rewinn said...

To support the claim

""... Proponents have threatened to destroy raw data, rather than allow access to doubters..."

Tim H wrote:

"rewinn the information you asked for is here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/13/cru_missing/"


But in fact, that blog post does not refer to a threat "to destroy raw data". At most it quotes a refusal to provide raw data to some parties, and statement that CRU doesn't have complete raw data from the 1980s. It does not include a threat to destroy raw data.

This is the problem with copying conclusions from bloggers: the bloggers themselves may have misinterpreted the raw data (in this case, the stolen emails.) To make reliable arguments, it is more helpful to cite the actual emails (...and not the snippets supplied by the bloggers.)

The blog also notes that CRU is not the only source of surface temperature data. If in fact there were a scheme to distort the data, a forensic climatologist would detect if by comparing CRU's outputs to those of the other sources. If no difference is detected, then either there is no conspiracy, or it is completely ineffective ...

Corey said...

That's completely correct, Rewinn. At worst, the leaked CRU emails show that scientists are not civil and professional 100% of the time, but no one ever claimed that being a scientist precludes one also being a human being, and very little should be judged from a few personal emails expressing a design to "beat the crap out of Pat Micheals" (as one email did). Quite frankly, given Micheals' propensity for flat out lying about what other scientists have said (he was the creator of the whole "Hansen was off by 300%" myth through data doctoring before Congress), I can't say I blame some of these scientists.

Also, CRU's data is consistent with GISS and NOAA data. UAH data, hand generated by a skeptic (Roy Spencer) also shows pretty much the same thing as CRU, though UAH goes through a lot of effort to hide that fact by truncating their own data to hide long-term trends.

Robert Leyland said...

Hi Corey,

Welcome to the discussion. You've put a lot stuff out in your posts, and I'll try to respond in kind.

(as an aside, can we agree not to quote from compromised sources - i.e pro AGW sites like RealClimate and Joe Romm, and anti-sites like JunkScience and Sen Inhofe)


The ice core chart you've recommended is often brought up by the supporters of AGW as one of the independent pieces of supporting evidence.

However and I quote: ... it's actually temperature which is driving CO2, something that happens because oceans absorb less CO2 as they warm, ... is the primary cause and effect relationship seen here.

If it were really 'feedbacks' why would it stop? and why would it go down? Surely once there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere it would sustain the higher temperatures?

But, no, temperature drops then CO2 lags behind.


CO2 is called a forcing and H2O a feedback, really? why aren't they both feedbacks? H2O evaporates into the atmosphere as the temperature rises, CO2 dissociates. Both are temperature driven effects.

Basically this is hand waving BS - there is no 'there' there!

Secondly, the ocean is a much more massive than the atmosphere and the amount of dissolved CO2 in the ocean is likewise huge compared to the atmosphere. 1.4 × 10^21 kg metric tons vs 5.3 × 10^18 kg - i.e three orders of magnitude greater - http://hypertextbook.com/facts/ - my point here is that if the oceans warm-up CO2 is released, if they cool it is absorbed.

Alternatives...

Solar is the most likely suspect - there is a strong correlation between Solar activity and global temperature.

Note that I wrote activity not TSI. The is another red-herring thrown out by the pro-AGW camp. TSI is fairly constant, varying by 0.1% over the normal solar cycle, and as Leif Svalgard points out, the variation in TSI over the course of one orbit (year) is greater than that. TSI is greater in the northern hemisphere winter, than the summer.

http://www.leif.org/research/

Note that Svalgard himself is neutral to supportive of the AGW hypothesis. He was one of a very small number of scientists who predicted a small cycle 24 (our current solar cycle), and even his prediction was high.

And yet the correlation is still there! It's not perfect, none of these are, it just means we don't yet understand it fully. The current Solar cycle is very deep, we haven't had significant sunspots in several years now, and guess what: the global temperature has leveled out, and is likely cooling (it's not statistically significant yet, but my bet is that it soon will be if the Sun remains quiet).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

Several papers have come the conclusion that the last 30 years of warming can't have been caused by the sun, because we see no change in the Solar output. The claim is that TSI peaked in the 1940s, and world temperature lags 10 years behind (Usoskin).

Of course that the peak is a high mark for 10,000+ years doesn't seem to get much of a mention when the Solar effect is dismissed. (Solanki)

http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

Except that their own graphic belies that point, as the correlation is quite close until the 1960-1970 period.

However, the temperature data they are using is GISS (which are _very_ likely UHI compromised - since they are surface records based in urban/airport environments - it has always seemed odd to me that NASA GISS would use surface records, while others incorporate satellites)

see also:

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/an-erroneous-statement-made-by-phil-jones-to-the-media-on-the-independence-of-the-global-surface-temperature-trend-analyses-of-cru-giss-and-ncdc/

http://www.surfacestations.org/

(aside to Tony Fisk - the current Solar minimum is what I expected would break the AGW)

More over the break perhaps. I realize I haven't completely answered why not CO2, but rather presented the Solar alternative.

cheers,
Robert.

Robert said...

Robert L., there is a simple reason why temperatures don't stay at a higher level: once sufficient fresh water is dumped into the oceans, circulatory patterns (such as the Gulf Stream) break down. The water is less dense, so the warm water doesn't go as far.

The result? Regions (such as Scandinavia and actually much of Europe) that depend on the Gulf Stream for their warmer weather start to cool off. The end result? Increased glaciation and the start of an Ice Age. Mind you, the Ice Age doesn't happen immediately, and the high level of flooding and coastal destruction caused by rising sea levels will do a lot of damage before the glaciers start forming again and marching across Europe.

Indeed, once when all the continents were merged together, we had an extended period of glaciation that got so bad the entire planet froze. It was only because of volcanic eruptions tossing CO2 into the atmosphere that the planet eventually warmed enough to overcome the fate of being a massive ice-ball. (Ironically enough, we need CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Without them? The planet would freeze.)

BTW, Corey? Thank you for your insightful post there. I found it quite helpful. My own problem is that while I know a lot of the basics behind global warming, physics, biology, and other sciences, I'm not a specialist. (Well, I'm a writer, not a scientist. So having a low but broad level of education is useful for what I do.) You helped hammer out stuff that I read about on the job while abstracting science journals and the like. (Or in other words, you're able to better articulate what you know because you have a firmer understanding of it than I do.)

Take care :)

Rob H.

TCB said...

RobH: You write "the entire planet froze. It was only because of volcanic eruptions tossing CO2 into the atmosphere that the planet eventually warmed enough to overcome the fate of being a massive ice-ball."

For completeness, I'll add that the amount of CO2 from eruptions at the end of the Snowball Earth era may not have been unusually great, but the ice meant there weren't very many photosynthesizing plants to soak the CO2 up, thus letting it build up enough to push back on the ice.

Corey said...

This blasted tiny character limit is driving my crazy. Unfortunately, Ilithi was being truthful when he said I'm notorious for giant posts ^_^;.

Rob L, while I appreciate you taking the time to respond, there is a lot of non-sequitur reasoning, and instances of you operating from false premises throughout your post.

It starts with sources. You're operating under the false premise that any source which agrees with the notion of anthropogenic global warming is biased, however this does not follow because it is the position held by the entire scientific globally, for all intents and purposes (97% is a pretty remarkable consensus). As such, Real Climate is in no way analogous to James Inhofe or Junkscience.com. Real Climate is operated by recognized experts in the field of climatology, whereas James Inhofe and Steve Milloy are not scientists (Milloy does hold a scientific degree irrelevant to the subject of climate change, but is otherwise simply a journalist). What's more, both Steve Milloy and James Inhofe have been funded by polluting energy and other big business interests to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may quote them all you like, but I will simply point out that they are not qualified to make judgements on this subject. More reputable skeptics, such as Roy Spencer may be quoted at the convenience of any poster here, because not falling victim to the premise of assuming that anyone is biased who disagrees with my conclusions, I do not assume Roy Spencer is biased solely by virtue of him being a "skeptic". On the same token, I will quote Real Climate at any point that they offer anything of particular insight.

You also operate on a false premise where CO2 is concerned. Whereas you are attempting to draw a causal relationship solely from a statistical graph, the scientific community at large does not operate this way, even as you assume they do. The graph is merely a confirmation of everything scientists already knew, because CO2's effect on the atmosphere has literally been known for more than a century. Before it was the "greenhouse effect", it was referred to as the Callendar Effect during the 1930s, and before that, work from John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius was already suggesting that increases in CO2 would cause the planet to warm (both during the 19th century).

Your reasoning for saying CO2 can't be a feedback is quite frankly absurd. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of feedbacks in climate (water vapor, for one), and none of them go into infinite feedback loops, positive or negative. There are two reasons for this: first, climate is self-regulating to an extent and all feedbacks operate within a tolerance the keep them in check (even anthropogenic CO2 is being sucked back in right now, just at a rate slower than its output), and secondly, any feedback is going to be subject to diminishing returns. No one ever said that doubling CO2 would cause the oceans to release enough CO2 to re-double the CO2, so the effect has limits. This is how all feedbacks operate, so why would CO2 in the paleoclimate data be any kind of exception?

As for why water is not a forcing, that's about the simplest question posed on climate to me in the past month. Water isn't a forcing because it has a very short residence in the atmosphere, days in fact. We could pump water vapor into the atmosphere until we were blue in the face (or... something ^_^;) and it wouldn't make one bit of difference. CO2 also has a limited time to reside in the atmosphere, but it's decades rather than days, which allows it to operate as a forcing in the case of anthropogenic contributions, because we can create a substantial net increase.

Corey said...

As for the sun, you're basically saying "just ignore the past 40 years, and pay attention to the rest, and it all makes sense!". Well that's good and fine, but one need to pay attention to ALL of the data, and it's clear that changes in solar irradiance have not been responsible for the rapid warming during the past four decades. Not only that, if you actually bothered to read the studies cited, they'd show that while the sun *might* have undergone changes earlier in the century (though, we have no direct data there, only proxy data), the sensitivity in climate is such that it is not what has primarily been fueling climate change, because its impact has been too small. The correlation is also not all that good, even when it's "good" with temperature going through clear upward trends as solar irradiance has gone through downward trends, and vice versa. Solar irradiance has also shown steep climbs and dives in the proxy data with no apparent change in temperature, and given how wildy variable temperature is (just look at the GISS data), that doesn't say much for the solar theory. It's true that other forcings could have been responsible for those periods, but no data for other forcings would support this point (though, you're free to prove me wrong there).

Even if everything could be explained up to the 1960s/1970s, and even if climate was more sensitive to solar forcings than we had thought (a fair number of ifs), that still does not explain the past 40 years. The fact that skeptics can't even agree on an alternative cause also says a lot. There's the solar irradiance crowd, which tries to fit climate change to a forcing that doesn't correlate in any way, shape, or form to the data as a whole, and then you have the PDO crowd, who can't explain what's driving the PDO to begin with. Then you get the real oddballs, such as the cosmic ray folks, who are just way out there (and have the problem that they need a sharply reduced solar forcing for their theory to even work, which would drop temperatures).

When skeptics have a fully explainable and working theory that fits ALL the data, and more than half a dozen of them can actually agree on a cause, then I will be fascinated to hear what they have to say. Until then, the best science we have -not to mention all the scientists- says that it's most likely anthropogenic CO2 contributions, and yes, they are anthropogenic in nature, but I won't open that can of worms unless it's really necessary.

Oh, and as a final note, it's not the urban heat island effect (UHI) either. This effect is both minimal, completely accounted for, and it doesn't correlate to the GISS temperature anomaly ANYWAYS. To use a simple response employed by Coby Beck, here is the world's urbanization (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0208/earthlights02_dmsp_big.jpg). Try correlating that to the NASA GISS anomaly (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/Fig1.gif). Many of the most urbanized areas on Earth (Japan, eastern China, North America) show the smallest temperature anomalies. I shouldn't even have to go that far, however, because again, scientists already know about and have been correcting this effect literally since the beginning of the 20th century.

Rob H: You're welcome, though I'm no climate expert either. I'm a student of biology with a moderate understanding of energy-related physics. Keep at it, and you can learn a lot. Realclimate.org is a great place to start. I imagine the reason Rob L wants people to stay away from their is because they arm people with good information! :p

Corey said...

I'm not trying to be too hard on you either, Rob L, so I apologize if it sounds that way. You really do need to be careful about the accusations you just throw out at the scientific community though.

I may not be a climatologist, but I'm still in science by trade, and know many people who would be implicated in many of your accusations. As such, I have to admit that I find such accusations to be mildly offensive.

I would simply ask that you consider that in future posting.

Robert Leyland said...

Hi Corey,

Just a quick diversion, I'd really rather discuss the science than the politics behind it. We're probably a lot closer politically than this issue would indicate. (we had a number of Obama support meetings, and election related events at my house!)

On RealClimate - I read it regularly, and I encourage others to read it to. But do so with a slightly jaundiced eye - Please understand, it is an advocacy site. It is run by Gavin Schmidt (of NASA GISS), and Michael Mann (major involvement in the CRU emails, IPCC chapter author, peer review gatekeeper).

Your comments are moderated, as are your questions, which is true of most blogs, else we get coated in spam. However, ask a reasonable, polite question that casts doubt on their position, and your post is unlikely to see the light of day. Even highly regarded climate scientists, physicists and writers attempting to engage in meaningful dialogue are subject to out of context cuts, misquoting, and outright deletion. Ask a naive question, or easily refuted point, and your post will be appear and by vilified. The MO there is tow the line, or face ridicule.

Just a sampling:

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001180a_little_testy_at_re.html

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000317a_response_to_realcl.html

http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Social/Deconstruct.htm

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/blocked-from-real-climate-and-tamino/

http://joeduck.com/tag/realclimate/


On links to the other side - In my previous post I tried to limit links to pro-AGW sites, partially to make the point that the evidence is extremely weak.

For me, extremism on either side is abhorrent. I won't link to CO2Science - but I will look at the papers they refer to. (CO2Science is likely funded by "industry groups", much as RealClimate is funded by
"liberal advocacy" groups).

Ok, now you've said your bit about advocacy groups, and I've said mine. I'd rather talk about the science than the politics.

Robert Leyland said...

Back to CO2. One of the problems with the global climate models (GCMs) is the over emphasis on CO2 as a forcing. They assume a huge residence time in order to achieve the forcing that is required for their computations to match.

http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c0120a5e507c9970c-pi

http://www.princeton.edu/~lam/TauL1b.pdf

http://www.co2web.info/

This makes their current forecasts (or scenarios as they like to call them) wildly inaccurate. Not a single climate model predicted the current leveling of temperature.

Yes they did manage to hindcast Pinatubo, which drove the temperature with sulphates and particulates. Seriously, as a computer programmer I don't regard that as a success so much, as a necessary precondition for feasibility. GCMs do not model the 1940-1970s cooling trend, without a lot of artificial adjustments, and they don't model the current flat spell.

Hansens 1998 forecast are wildly high, especially those that received prominent attention in the press (his most reasonable scenario C is still well above current temperature)


http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2602

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/22/a-little-known-but-failed-20-year-old-climate-change-prediction-by-dr-james-hansen/

Corey said...

Rob L, there are a few points of note here.

First, while I agree that any scientist is potentially susceptible to protection of their own points of view, you should realize that the Real Climate staff have, on more than occasion, sought out well-reasoned challenges to various components of their position, which have pointed out notable flaws in data used by the various scientists, resulting in corrections that have been issued and acknowledged by not just the Real Climate staff, but by many climate scientists.

Secondly, you can't claim equivalency between "liberal advocacy groups" and corporate groups in this instance for three reasons. First, the largest liberal advocacy group in the US, Moveon.org, has literally millions of times less money than Exxon Mobile. Secondly, the AGW theory is something that's largely acknowledged by conservatives in every country outside of the US. Lastly, there is no evidence of which I'm aware of such funding by such groups.

Now, onto climate science.

First, climate models have no trouble, whatsoever modelling the 1940s-1960s (it really stops a bit before the 70s) cooling trend. That's because the reason for it is well known: aerosol forcings.

There is absolutely nothing about that cooling period that is inconsistent with modern science's understanding of climate. In fact, climatologists would have a harder time understanding why climate does what it does if there wasn't a cooling trend during that period.

Secondly, the fact that Hansen's predictions (which I thank you for accurately representing) matched up as well as they did on the decadal scale for as long as they did are really quite remarkable. Nothing changes the fact that for the forcings and feedbacks for which he accounted, climate acted exactly in the way he predicted. The reason it doesn't match up right now is because ocean forcings are jetting downward right now, particularly with the ENSO forcing, and possibly the PDO, but we really don't know much about that right now AFAIK, and for all we know, it could just be driven by temperature rather than the reverse.

Hansen didn't predict that the oceanic forcings would suddenly jet downward, and the fact that the planet is still maintaining temperature or warming (the CRU data shows the former, the GISS data the latter) despite this turn of events is really some of the strongest evidence of AGW that we have, because obviously something else is still profoundly warming the planet if temperature is not following the downward trend in the oceanic forcings.

Corey said...

As for CO2 residency times, it's 1AM here, and I'm too tired to look at the cites sources right now (which I may, or may not do later), but really, this is somewhat of a red herring anyways, though perhaps not one that's intentional on your part. You can make any claim you like about the residence time of CO2, but any way you slice it, atmospheric CO2 is still climbing. Nothing changes this fact, and so, nothing change the fact that the result should be a warming planet.

At best, a shorter CO2 residence time would just mean a quicker end to the enhanced greenhouse effect once anthropogenic carbon contributions ceased, something I would be elated over, but that does not really help us in the here and now.

I would also doubt claims of shorter than predicted residency time as well, because that would imply a greater contribution to CO2 than we're accounting for to have the net increase we're witnessing. As all known natural sources of CO2 are presently absorbing a net amount of atmospheric carbon (both oceanic and terrestrial systems), that would require a mysterious additional source to complement the anthropogenic contributions, which are presently 100% of the source of the net increase, for all intents and purposes (really, it's like ninety something if you can't volcanic CO2 emissions, but that's what I say "for all intents and purposes).

So far, I'm still seeing anthropogenic global warming as the only solid theory we have.

In any case, thank you for the engaging discussion.

Corey said...

Please forgive some of my out-of-place words in my latest posts, as I said, it's very late here (long day, too).

newscaper said...

If you are so in favor of 'real' capitalism and small businesses (which when poised to become medium -sized comapnies is where all the real growth happens) -- then you should oppose (or radically downsize/reform) Sarbanes-Oxley, which dramatically discourages startups from putting out the IPOs which would lt them grow. Instead, their best strategy seems to now be to hope to get noticed and bought out by the big boys.

SOX was fashioned in the Enron aftermath when anti-business sentiment was fanned (even more then deserved) by the left *and* 'liberals'.

Michael S. malone has written quite a bit abotu how SOX and other increases in regulatory and tax burdens are strangling the innovative culture of Silicon Valley.

newscaper said...

So, David, why aren't more AGW'ers pushing the one thing that the most hardened 'skeptic' could agree with them on -- reducing dependency on foreign-sourced fossil fuels for baseload power generation with modern nuclear power?

Corey said...

Newscaper, many people are on board with a nuclear solution to help, not just with anthropogenic global warming, but with all the problems we suffer because of use of primarily imported oil.

The problem is that none of the US public is particularly fond of this option, regardless of their status as environmentalists, because of a general stigma against nuclear power. In France, by contrast, you find mountains of nuclear reactors producing electricity.

Tony Fisk said...

I'd split the question in two.

reducing dependency on foreign-sourced fossil fuels

this is a no-brainer (gosh, it almost sounds like something out of the transition handbook!).

baseload power generation with modern nuclear power?

While I don't dismiss nuclear power as an option, it has a number of issues (apart from the radiation bogey)

scaling: there aren't the available reserves to fully adopt nuclear power. It would be a stop-gap measure at best.

sourcing: foreign-sourced uranium... hmmm!

setup: it takes twenty years to commission a new power plant (although, granted, this can probably be reduced)

bottom line: why expend energy developing a temporary solution when you can develop something more lasting in about the same time scale?

hetor: the manly outcrops of Dartmoor

Corey said...

You know, something I remembered is that nuclear power is actually no better in terms of GHG output than fossil fuel power, because harvesting the Uranium is immensely CO2 intensive.

In any case, it's true that nuclear fission is a stop-gap at best (and a waste of time and money that hurts the environment at worst), but nuclear fusion is another story, and something that should really be getting more money and attention, especially in light of newer post-tokamak designs. Right now, the Polywell fusion project shows incredible promise for delivering net power from fusion (we can already build fusion reactors, it's just a net power problem), and yet, the US Navy is tossing a piddling $8 million at it despite its potential to literally obsolete every other source of power on this planet.

I've felt for a long time that regardless of the engineering challenges surrounding it, there will be nothing of any sort that liberates us from present power sources until someone comes up with a viable nuclear fusion option. There is just nothing else out there that can provide the volume of power needed to run our civilization (as incredibly clean and cost effective as measures like wind and solar can be for delivering a portion of that power).

Rob Perkins said...

Well, y'know, when your country is led by an oilman with family ties to foreign oil powers, you get an $8 million funding level to the technology which could obsolete it all. Perhaps the decision was made out of a fear that Arabia would go to war if its ruling classes didn't have heaps of oil revenue. Y'know, kind of like Chavez making open-mouth-breathing noises at Colombia...