Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hidden Offshore Money Hoards Revealed...and Other Transparency News

You may have heard that a consortium of journalists, working on a cache of 2.5 million recently spilled files, has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and mega-rich the world over. If preliminary reports prove to be true, it would be a revelation ten times larger than last year's WikiLeaks Affair and vastly more important. Indeed, it could portend the start of a worldwide radical movement for transparency that I forecast (including - for dramatic effect - a world war on Switzerland) in my 1989 novel Earth.   

For starters, see a chart detailing ongoing investigations into banking havens worldwide. Scan a wide range of reactions, from Russian officials, Europeans and others: 

--Tax Haven Data Leak Reverberates around the Globe

--Tax Havens Cause Poverty

--Release of Off-Shore Records draws Worldwide Response

This event appears to prove the contention I made back in 1989, in Earth -- that even world elites will have to adapt to a world much more filled with light. Specifically, these revelations may have short, intermediate and long term consequences.  In the near term, some cheaters and kleptocrats will be caught and some laws tightened, some cheat-havens hemmed in, public awareness and anger incrementally raised.  

The intermediate effect will be to cause the kleptos and New Oligarchs to pay more for increasingly clever methods of concealment, evasion and manipulation. Remain cynical, it will take a lot more than this. A whole lot more.

But over the longer term, a whole lot more is simply inevitable. We will see cascades of sudden revelation as these skulking methods prove inherently unreliable. They will be undermined by defections-of-conscience and by self-serving whistle blowers. By the fallibility of software and by the venality of henchmen. They will crack and leak, in any world that is short of Orwellian. At which point the world will choose. Shall we endure a return to the long, 6000 year era of law-protected oligarchy? Or will this signal the return to vigor of a civilization that is kept healthy by openness and accountability and light?

Yes, I am putting it in dramatic - even manichean - terms.  And I have probably understated the importance of the coming series of confrontations. In fact, let's make the prediction even more explicit than I made in Earth

FORECAST: This movement may be propelled - soon - by one or more radicalized nations in the developing world. Not radicalized by socialism or religion or dogmatic frenzy, but by the appearance of a new class of honest, grownup leaders at their helms. Imagine the fury that those leaders and their people will feel, when they suddenly realize just how much of their national wealth wealth was siphoned away by their own former kleptocrat lords. 

Vast amounts that those thieves took with them into exile.  Example: The Philippine Presidential Commission on Good Government probe into the disclosure that Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was a beneficiary of a secret offshore trust of prodigious proportions, in the British Virgin Islands… 

Now extrapolate this and you start to understand why the Swiss and other haven bankers have recently seemed willing - even eager - to strike semi-transparency deals with tax authorities in Europe and North America.  (1) Because those big countries have dangerous klout that must be placated by tossing overboard some merely-rich, sub-billionaire clients. But far more likely - (2) because the real business of lucrative banking secrecy lies in that mountain of klepto-hoards looted from much poorer nations. By striking deals with the IRS and EU tax boards, they hope to prevent alliances between developed and developing nations, in a grand consortium for transparency.

Only it won't work. Eventually, some nation like the Phillipines, or Indonesia or the former Zaire will be led by people graced with honesty, imagination and courage. Leaders who figured out, in advance, the pitfall traps such as blackmail

There are things that such nations and peoples can do -- exceptional, dramatic and boldly effective things -- that could transform the world. There are ways. And when it happens, remember where you first heard this.*

==  Pay attention… this is important ==

You Americans out there who actually want a return to a vigorous, problem solving nation, where politics is about negotiation and the Peoples' will and not regression into feudalism, you must pay attention to this. There is really nothing more urgent you will watch, probably ever! Because the ability of the American Experiment to remain healthy and solve every problem hangs in the balance.

I mean it.  Watch:  Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim.  

But this next matter is paramount, as well. One issue where I am a flaming, no-compromise radical, is a citizen's right to record encounters with authority, especially the police. Now the Obama Justice Department has made things starkly and abundantly clear.  It is now “settled law” that anyone is allowed to record or photograph police officers in public.  

A statement of interest – a legal term for when an agency or organization has a stake in the outcome of a trial, but not direct involvement – filed in the case of Mannie Garcia v. Montgomery County, Md., upholds the right of individuals to photograph police under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This is more important than it may seem. Most cops are hardworking and well-intentioned men and women. Their instincts - inherited from ancient eras - are understandable... and must not be allowed to prevail in this matter.

But even as "settled law" it will be very very hard.  Note these cases: 

The NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg oppose surveillance of police.  See? Even "openness" democrats can't be trusted in this issue.

San Diego police attack, arrest man video recording them, claiming his phone could be weapon. 

Dinosaurs. In fact, this new era of omni-veillance will be essential and will help make policing easier! Especially if citizens feel they are partners and not victims. Take this example. NYPD fails to catch mugger for three weeks, but internet commenters catch him in one hour.  My "smart mobs" from Existence, taking form already.

Then it all moves to a new front. “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”  Terrorism?  This was prompted by animal rights groups video-recording scenes of horrific sadism and cruelty on farms and in slaughterhouses… going far beyond the normal bloody business necessitated by the carnivorality industry. This was exactly the sort of transparency that the industry ought to want, in order to rid themselves of vicious monsters, the way pedophiles are kept out of schools. When they get used to this and embrace it, the owners will have a cleaner and more efficient - and less Karma-burdened - business. 

And related news --  A judge has blocked Iowa State University from releasing documents about food safety research conducted for the beef-processing company that makes the product dubbed "pink slime" by critics. At the level of details, there are actually reasons for compromise in this case.  At the level of principle, none at all.  
This is not as crucial a situation as the taping of citizen contacts with police.  But it matters and light must be allowed to shine.

Oh, but sinking lower than slaughterhouses… on a secretly-recorded tape, GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and his advisors are heard laughing and joking about opposition research they had on actress Ashley Judd, who had been considering running against McConnell next year. Many Democratic groups blasted McConnell for the remarks, disgusted by the fact McConnell would potentially use Judd's suicidal thoughts as a child against her. In reactionn came a firestorm or protest against eavesdropping by "leftist agitators."  Um, get used to it. Stop being led by crude people. Go back to choosing grownups. It really is that simple.

Interesting times indeed.

==  Augmented reality... and catching liars ==

Compare these two images of Rome during the election of the last pope in 2005 and more recently in 2013.  Then contrast the images to my descriptions of "tru-vu goggles" in EARTH (1989) and the gel-lens stalks people wear in 2048, portrayed in EXISTENCE
How quickly are we moving toward the world of Augmented Reality (AR)?

Get used to expanded power of video to appraise tiny changes, measure your pulse at a distance and enhance our already tremendous ability to pick patterns out of backgrounds.  These methods developed at MIT will help us all thrive in Augmented Reality… or else prove powerful tools for tyranny.  We'll get best outcomes from them if we all embrace them.  Openly. 

Indeed, after reading that article, ponder my 1980 novel Sundiver in which vision-based lie-detectors (inescapable, wherever there is light) utterly transform politics. 

I predict that by 2016 there will be lurid claims from "experts" on all sides, claiming to catch fibs by opponents talking in public or on TV... experts who are then "shown" to be lyingI It will be chaos, at first.  Then this stuff will become an App. And by 2020 or 2024? A useful tool> Possibly a sieve for psychopaths and monsters? Can you see yet why - for so many reasons - the clade of already-powerful psychopaths is growing desperate?

== And more transparency crux-points ==

Perching: Video, released by the Air Vehicle Directorate, shows a pigeon-like drone that can draw power from an electrical wire while its camera watches a target. These and other new-style drones are part of a fascinating and problematic future. Stay alert. 

In a fascinating article, Technology Review explains how a huge black market has developed for "zero-day" systemic flaws in programs and operating systems, especially in mobile devices.  These can be exploited by governments or corporations of criminal gangs, especially in mobiles, that get infrequent security updates.  A cottage industry of hackers now swops in to find flaws and back doors and chinks in security and then sells them at high prices.  The article raises this as a scary scenario… but in fact I am not so sure.  Isn't this how an immune system functions? T Cells that discover an invader and ways to neutralize it are rewarded within your own body; they are given resources to reproduce.  Is that any different from a government agency saying: "Come to us with your clever discovery of a flaw.  We'll pay better than the criminals do… and you won't risk jail."  See: the Malware industrial complex and the trade in zero-day vulnerabilities.

A multinational security firm has secretly developed software called RIOT capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future behavior by mining data from social networking websites. Riot can display on a spider diagram the associations and relationships between individuals online by looking at who they have communicated with over Twitter. It can also mine data from Facebook and sift GPS location information from Foursquare, a mobile phone app used by more than 25 million people to alert friends of their whereabouts. The Foursquare data can be used to display, in graph form, the top 10 places visited by tracked individuals and the times at which they visited them.  


Curious whether a prescription or medical device your doctor is recommending comes from a manufacturer who has been paying your doctor? Good news, then: The federal government has finally developed a plan for how the Physician Payments Sunshine Act will work. The Sunshine Act, made federal law as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, was designed to allow anyone -- patients, doctors, journal editors -- to look up which doctors are getting how much from which companies.  

== And yet MORE transparency news… ==

See the stunningly huge number of new top level domains that are under consideration by ICANN

These guys consulted me. Koozoo envisions a world where a network of smartphone cameras will anticipate your needs and offer streaming video that fills them. But that's future talk. For now, it will just put up cameras anywhere it can.

wi01_logoIn the wake of the famous WikiLeaks events, a large number of emulation sites popped up around the world, aiming to blow the whistle on corruption from Bulgaria to India to Nicaragua. Most of these clones never got very far and appear to have all but shut down. Balkanleaks seems to be just one of a handful still actively receiving and publishing new documents. (Note, I long supported Witness since 1990 or so, a more robust model that does not rely on inherently fragile encryption methods.) As I described in The Transparent Society, maintaining methods of aggressive accountability, threatening the dark secrets of powerful men, is a dangerous game and secret codes are only the tip of what's required. 

States are pondering or passing laws to restrict the use of drones for camera use in the skies over public realms like highways. This is not where we should be concentrating our freedom and privacy protecting efforts.  All such laws will do is hamper the good aspects of drone use while compelling elites of government and wealth to make their surreptitious drones smaller.  More like birds and insects and harder to detect. The failure of imagination of these people…. 

The thing we need is not to try to blind elites… that has never ever worked. (Show me one historical example. One.)  What we must pursue is sousveillance, our ability to look back at power. to see with our own drones etc.  And, above all, to make fresh, agile deals every time an issue like this comes up. 

"You say that you, our protectors, need more vision to better protect the public?  Fine.  But in return you must undergo more supervision.  Citizens in the control rooms.  Citizens on the panels that issue licenses. Webcams in boardrooms.  You may see better, in order to serve us better.  But you are a watchdog, not a wolf! And here is your choke chain. Accept it - and your role as a public servant - or else we will hire others."

== And more! ==

Brad Foster puts into perspective the ever-rising tsunami of information and how crushing is the hypersonic waves of… bullshit. Just a few small examples:  Netflix consumes a THIRD of all internet traffic. Four billion shares on Facebook every day.  Eric Schmidt of Google says 5 exabytes of information were created by humanity till 1980.  We now create that much every two days.  Frost goes a bit over the top in his denunciations and diagnoses, but he concludes there has never been a better time for people to find ways around the BS and slim down, in order to be creative, or useful, or focus on what you can do that does (or is) some good. 

Political note: The FCC and Obama Department of Justice appear to be leaning toward favoring smaller mobile phone companies in releasing more cell tower spectrum, in order to encourage more competition with Verizon and AT&T. This may be a crucial sign of sentiment as the FCC also decides whether to release spectrum for major citizen-access use of WiFi type systems anywhere in the continent. 

== Brin on Beck? Via Penn Jillette? The strange world of Transparency ==

I was mentioned on Glenn Beck! In a "surprisingly cordial discussion" between Glenn Beck and Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller). Penn mentioned me twice, citing The Transparent Society (about 34 and 41 minutes in). I consider Penn to be a true paladin of freedom, worthy of my greatest compliment… that he and I would both have been quickly burned at the stake under any tyranny. (You, too, should strive to be burnable!) But in this wondrous civilization he and I are instead well paid to provoke and stir the pile, joyously yelling at each other and in all directions. Progress indeed. 

Beck? Well, he was courteous and calm on this occasion.  Go watch a discussion between a sane-openminded (though rambunctiously provocative) true-libertarian and a tendentiously delusional faux-libertarian shill for the new lords… but still a good mind-stretch for those of you who need to wallow now and then, in smart perspectives that challenge you. 

== Coda ==

Million-Dollar-Outlines-450x680A final set of sad notes. I have spoken elsewhere of the terrible news that both Jay Lake and Iain Banks are in desperate fights against cancer. I will speak more of that later. (They are great writers and let's all send our best vibes.) Now comes news that the son of eminent science fiction author Dave Wolverton - AKA David Farland - suffered a terrible accident recently. Past fans of Dave's work - or folks interested in trying something new - might have a look at his novel Nightingale… or else, if you are a would be writer, consider Million Dollar Outlines, in which Dave offers would-be best-sellers advice how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership. Or make a donation:
Help Ben Walk.

------------
* Oh, but by then I may have been bribed into denying it all! No serious offers so far.  You - the smart public - should feel insulted by that! Think about it.



David Brin
http://www.davidbrin.com
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89 comments:

Tim H. said...

Something to consider in regards to wealth differentials, it maintains a large pool of corruptibles for the wealthy to manipulate, hungry enough to be willingly subverted. One more thing economic egalitarianism will improve.

David Brin said...

Tim, again I think our future depends upon finding ways to suborn HENCHMEN!

See:

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/attention-henchmen-voting-machines-and.html

als:


www.davidbrin.com/inspectorgeneral.html

http://www.davidbrin.com/politicalsuggestions.html

Tim H. said...

Definitely something like that looks to be part of the solution, but prosperity makes so many problems look smaller.

Stephen Peterson said...

I can't remember if you mentioned this in a previous post, but here's a very relevant TED Talk re: developing countries versus kleptocrats. Afra Raymond: Three myths about corruption

For all the (mostly righteous) left bemoans Western colonialist pillaging of the rest of the world, local lords seem to be just as bad, if not worse. (At least the European governors were HONEST about their stealings!)

David Brin said...

Stephen wow and thanks for that amazing TED link. Still, I doubt any conceivable combination of home grown thieves and bullies could hold a candle to Belgian King Leopold, one of humanity's most wretched monsters.

sociotard said...

Now here is a member of the professional caste who really knows how to act like a grown-up:

Judge finds himself in contempt of court

Alfred Differ said...

I think the forecase about honest leaders is going to be difficult to determine positively. Many states that were former colonies are fictions in the sense that they aren't nations. Many African countries are in this predicament. For example, consider the history of Angola since the end of colonial days. There are at least three distinct cultural 'nations' and they've fought a bloody civil war for control of the state and the wealth that goes with the core region and its resources. From which ethnic group is an honest leader supposed to arrive? Would you believe one of them accusing the others of national theft? Some among them hate the others enough to commit genocide, so what is theft of a few hundred billion dollars compared to that?

Until the borders are re-arranged or the genocides are complete, I don't see much happening on the financial level unless we are pushing it from the outside. I'm all for trapping the institutions that support the kleptocrats in the theft, but the 'people' from whom the money is being stolen are often busy killing each other or defending against such efforts. They have better things to be doing right now like finding a path to peace short of genocide.

sociotard said...

I'm wondering if there is a real connection here. After all, the bomb went off at the finish line, while the starting line probably has a higher concentration of people. (Runners anyway).

The last mile of the Boston Marathon was dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Shooting Spree, and families of the victims were seated near the finish line.

sociotard said...

And here is an intersting morsel, given David's stance on the utility of cell phones for people-coordination in an emergency

"Boston is essentially on lockdown, and flights are not entering or leaving the city. Cell phone service was suspended in the entire city to prevent any more explosives from being detonated."

The sad thing is, it seems like the prudent thing to do.

locumranch said...

There are at least four problems with David's idea of a transparency-based Golden Age: First, he assumes that lying & dissembling represent socially aberrant and shameful acts. Second, he assumes that these liars & dissemblers feel ashamed of their shameless actions. Third, he imagines that honesty and justice represent the social norm. And, fourth, he assumes that the honest man is somehow compelled to act in the perpetuation of justice.

Using Dan Ariely's book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty” as a reference, I put it to you that David is mistaken. Most cheats & liars are actually proud of their deceptions. Successful deceivers are known as innovators & entrepreneurs and are much admired. Honesty and justice are not the social norm as evidenced by the concept of moral complicity. Contemporary moral standards define vigilanteism, also known as the desire for justice, as an aberrant behaviour. And, many authorities like Bella DePaulo (author of "The Lies We Tell and the Clues We Miss") accept that lying & dissembling are socially essential and politically indispensable acts.

It therefore follows that increased transparency will solve nothing in the absence of a vengeful mob of French Enlightenment-style revolutionaries. Rich and powerful liars will remain inviolate, hiding behind the legal influence of their ill-gotten gains. And the common man, who is unskilled at deception, can only lose as he is exposed to the same level of social scrutiny as the pederast. He will be tarred by the same brush, punished for some real or imagined crime of class, economics or ethnicity, tatooed with the indelible ink of camp concentration, and perhaps even gassed.

And, lastly, what is all this nonsense about "Augmented Reality" when the so-called act of 'augmentation' imposes yet another barrier between the individual and the observed object? Will a strawberry taste sweeter when we observe it in the context of a preconceived narrative? This is yet another example of doublespeak. We call this technique 'Augmented Reality' even though it only serves to distort our perceptions about what we see while the physical reality of the observed situation is unaffected.

Best.

Jacob said...

Hi Locumranch,

I'm not sure how long you've been filling the role of Contrarian yourself, but lately I think you've fallen into a mental trap. Sometimes in the pursuit of proving someone you disagree as wrong leads you into many types of errors.

First some background on me. I own Dan Ariely's book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty” and I'm currently taking his class on irrationality. I feel that you are misrepresenting him and just saying things that you want to believe in. I don't agree with your conclusions.

A better argument that I think David Brin and others would respond to is that a lot Corruption isn't the evil mustache kind. Simple Transparency isn't enough unless an effort is made to point out to the Fudgers (Small Liars and Self Deceivers) that they are damaging society.

I would note that David Brin has advocated for citizens to organize into groups that take a big project and break it into small parts that a lot of amateurs/hobbyists manage. Unfortunately we aren't doing this on the scale we should, but I can hope.

Anyway, I'd recommend taking a step back until your passion cools. Otherwise, you will not end up >effectively< poking holes in others ideas.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Locumranch,

"Augmented Reality" - is simplicity itself - when I use a magnifying glass to read fine print or examine a cracked surface I am employing "Augmented Reality"

I can imagine lots of ways in which having information from non visual frequencies or from past behavior could assist in dealing with the real world

From your argument I should not even wear my glasses as they "distort our perceptions about what we see while the physical reality of the observed situation is unaffected."

locumranch said...

My statements on dishonesty represent a combination of Ariely, DePaulo & personal opinion, and I apologize to Jacob if I appeared to overstate Ariely's position. His work should stand on its own merits. Ariely argued the following: A little bit of cheating is very common because it is easy for most people to rationalize; cheating is infectious in the sense that people cheat more when they observe more audacious examples of cheating; and the level of cheating is unaffected by the probability of getting caught.

By supplying an example and using the term 'Augmented Reality' according to accepted definition, Duncan makes my point well because, strictly speaking, the use of a magnifying glass and/or corrective lenses only augment our visual senses. Corrective lenses alter our perceptions in regard to reality, but they do not alter reality in any material fashion.

As Reality cannot be changed or augmented in this manner, the term 'Augmented Reality' is nonsensical.

Best

Stefan Jones said...

I've read reports that cell phone service was NOT suspended in Boston. The fog of war . . .

Stephen Peterson said...

@locumranch: I've read about how reciprocity affects iterated "ultimatum games" and such, when participants tend to punish those who they perceive as cheaters. I wonder if the tendency to cheat "just a little bit" can't be reconciled with a propensity to punish larger cheats. Maybe the level of available information has something to do with it?

And from earlier, @David: No argument there. Leopold had a "Heart of Darkness" indeed.

David Brin said...

Locumranch says: "There are at least four problems with David's idea of a transparency-based Golden Age: First, he assumes that lying & dissembling represent socially aberrant and shameful acts. Second, he assumes that these liars & dissemblers feel ashamed of their shameless actions. Third, he imagines that honesty and justice represent the social norm. And, fourth, he assumes that the honest man is somehow compelled to act in the perpetuation of justice."

Ummmmm…. ex-squeeze me? May I answer these four points politely with (1) bullshit, (2) bullshit, (3) bullshit, and um let's see…. (4) bullshit.

What crock! If we catch corrupt assholes being corrupt we will be able to send them to JAIL! I don't give a shit then whether they are ashamed or not.

Bernie Madoff is in jail and if we catch big guys that way, others will follow. If we do it BEFORE the New Lordship becomes entrenched and safe from scrutiny. I portray that transition in Existence. I fear and hate it and fight it vastly harder than Locum ever has.

As for the disruption caused by Augmented Reality. Duh? New tech will be used for porn and distraction and foolishness. Over the long run, we will also use it for great things. Like movable type and glass lenses. Duh

locumranch said...

"If we catch corrupt assholes being corrupt we will be able to send them to JAIL!" Not likely.

The Bernie Madoff prosecution was the exception that proves the rule. The really big crooks like AIG, Barclays, Deutche Bank, JP Morgan, Citigroup, RBS, Goldman-Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed a massive financial fraud that cost global markets more than 34 Trillion dollars, 17 Trillion of which came directly from US households. They are also immune from prosecution due to immense moral complicity and global financial collusion.

Compared to the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009, the LIBOR scandal and the brazen corruption of many democratically elected governments. Bernie Madoff was just a small-time hustler, a piker really.

On a side note, the concept of 'Augmented Reality' is a misnomer at best and a fraud at worst, the verbal equivalent of calling over-tight undergarments 'genital enhancing". So, why not call "Augmented Reality" by its correct name: Sensory Augmentation?

Best.

Tony Fisk said...

By locumranch's definition, all sensory input could be considered an augmentation of reality, and therefore, a lie.

I begin to see where the cynicism comes from.

Jumper said...

Let's not make too much of something we all know: 'lying & dissembling represent' the traits of many a common salesman, anywhere or everywhere.

Jonathan S. said...

AT&T has stated that they did not "suspend service" in Boston - instead, the cell network was simply overwhelmed by all the people calling to check on loved ones. They have requested that texts be used wherever possible, as that uses less bandwidth. They're also delaying taking down the temporary wifi network they'd set up for the race.

When watching 24-hour news channels, please remember that they have to fill the airtime with something, no matter how inaccurate. For current accurate info, watch for press conferences from the Boston PD. And for the love of sanity, if you do read the New York Post, don't take it any more seriously than you would the Weekly World News - I've seen so much bad info over the last several hours that's attributed to the Post that it's gone beyond hideous, beyond funny, and is now in some bizarre zone on the far side of ludicrous.

locumranch said...

How can I make people like Tony and David understand?

As exemplified by Cartesian logic & Climate Change theory, improper (sloppy) grammar leads to illogical conclusions, mysticism and bad science.

In the case of ‘Cognito Ergo Sum’, Descartes confuses subject and object, mistakes a correlation between Thinking and Being for causality and concludes, in an illogical & erroneous fashion, that derivative Thought (abstraction) precedes Being (physicality) despite copious scientific and empiric evidence to the inverse.

In the case of Climate Change theory, climatologists mistake an indisputable correlation between Temperature and atmospheric CO2 (solubility) for causality in a similar fashion, concluding that one must cause the other even though causality cannot be proven in this Chicken v. Egg situation as evidenced by the temperature-dependent solubility of CO2 in water (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html).

Note the inverse relationship between the codependent variables of CO2 solubility in water and water temperature. Although these variables are obviously related, neither variable can be said to cause the other without a significant amount of assumption and rationalization (putting ice core CO2 levels aside for the moment).

This is why sloppy grammatical expressions like ‘Reality Augmentation’ piss me off to such an extent. They confuse Subject Verb Object (SVO) order and lead to all manner of illogic. This is why ‘Cognito Ergo Sum’ has been used to justify the Cult of Positive Thinking for generations; this is why it is so important to say ‘Sensory Augmentation’ rather than ‘Reality Augmentation’ because such ‘Virtual Reality’** techniques cannot and do not alter Reality ever; and this is why the True Scientist must always be Skeptical and Cynical.


Best.
__
**Literally meaning 'Fake Real', a term like 'Virtual Reality' is intrinsically nonsensical, grotesquely oxymoronic & thoroughly despicable.

Alfred Differ said...

(ahem) The small lies can also keep a marriage together. Let's not knock them too much. 8)


Augmented reality isn't sensory augmentation anymore than a hammer makes me stronger, yet I can do things with a hammer I can't do with my fist. 'Augmented reality' is just a name we've given to a new group of tools that stretch our abilities to find related information. The fact that we overlay those relationships on our senses is simply due to present UI restrictions. When we learn more about the senses that point inward at our own minds I suspect the tools will be adapted to make use of them too.


It is important to remember that US voters are also complicit in the financial meltdown. We approved of teh vision of Americans being able to buy homes and we looked the other way when many of us knew a lot of people where lending money to anyone with a pulse. We tolerated loan fraud partially because we liked the inflated prices of our properties and wanted the free money. As far as I'm concerned, some of that $17 trillion was effectively counterfeit that we helped print on unstable paper. In hindsight it is no surprise it went poof.

I'm not arguing in defense of certain greedy bastards in the financial industry. I'm merely pointing out that if we are going to point fingers and blame, we should point one at us too.

Jumper said...

Lawyer to secretary: "I'll be incommunicado for a couple of days."
Secretary: "Where's that?"
2nd Lawyer: "Down there near Cognito."

sociotard said...

Locumranch, I think you were missing the point of "Cogito Ergo Sum". Yes, there must be something physically there before thought can take place (there is a living body with a certain set of attributes, therefore it thinks).

I don't think that's what he meant by "Sum". What is the "I" in "I am"? That's the question Cartes was trying to answer. I might rephrase his statement as "What I perceive as my 'self' is that sense of thinking, feeling, and choosing. I could not do this without a meatbag body, but my body is not my self. If it were damaged so that it could not think and were left on life support, my body would still exist but 'I' would not exist. If 'I' were uploaded to a computer my body might stop existing but 'I' would continue to exist."

Of course, modern research suggests that there is no free will, and that what we percieve as our selves, our choices and determination and desires, are just an illusion. "I think, therefore I am decieved".

Alfred Differ said...

I think a slightly better description is that modern research suggests the question 'Is the will free?' is nonsense. The physical world does not appear to be deterministic, but asking the question implies the erroneous assumption that an answer exists. What is the difference between a duck?

I've learned to stick with a simple subject-verb sentance when people bring up Descartes. I prefer 'I am' as it avoids the conditional. No object is needed because an existence verb is a decent description of 'I'.

I suspect locumranch is deeply committed to a particular philosophy many of us would reject at least partially. I'm not sure what it is, though.

Jumper said...

Descartes spends much considering that he is indeed being fooled. He attempts to integrate this possibility.

There is this, of course:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

Duncan Cairncross said...

Locumbranch said

"In the case of Climate Change theory, climatologists mistake an indisputable correlation between Temperature and atmospheric CO2 (solubility) for causality in a similar fashion, concluding that one must cause the other even though causality cannot be proven in this Chicken v. Egg"

Wrong!!
The first datum was the FACT that CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas - as measured over 100 years ago.
The correlation acts as a confirmatory datum - and is not used to show causality

David Brin said...

Moreover, I find that the only people criticizing scientists for not understanding correlation vs causation are sideline amateurs. Hey loch, mind if we ask your professional experience in science?

This is like Michael Crichton shilling for the denialist cult by claiming "there is no such thing as scientific consensus and what a majority of scientists believe does not "vote" and make something true."

That's a perfect example of lying by saying something that's correct.
What scientists actually do is creat MODELS OF THE WORLD and they are legit in picking by consensus the one that seems best to match the facts. They are not "voting" to force something to be true. They are zeroing in, empirically, on the model that predicts future experimental results best...

...and the model that best should guide public policy, while further work is done to test the model to destruction, so it can be replaced by something better.

That is a description of the process by someone who has lived it.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

supplying an example and using the term 'Augmented Reality' according to accepted definition, Duncan makes my point well because, strictly speaking, the use of a magnifying glass and/or corrective lenses only augment our visual senses. Corrective lenses alter our perceptions in regard to reality, but they do not alter reality in any material fashion.


No one thinks corrective lenses DO alter the material world. But you seem to be mistaken in one sense. It is one's FAULTY EYESIGHT which alters our perception of the real world, and corrective lenses...well, correct the alteration. They bring our perception of the real world more in line with what it should be. Rather than further distorting our perception, the effect is the exact opposite of that.


As Reality cannot be changed or augmented in this manner, the term 'Augmented Reality' is nonsensical.


Poetic language. Metaphor and allusion. I don't know about you, but the first time I heard the term "augmented reality", I knew exactly what was being discussed.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

As exemplified by Cartesian logic & Climate Change theory, improper (sloppy) grammar leads to illogical conclusions, mysticism and bad science.


Are you sure it's not the other way around? :) I mean, you're arguing that correlation doesn't imply causailty, and then you go and assert that it does in this case.


In the case of ‘Cognito Ergo Sum’, Descartes confuses subject and object, mistakes a correlation between Thinking and Being for causality and concludes, in an illogical & erroneous fashion, that derivative Thought (abstraction) precedes Being (physicality) despite copious scientific and empiric evidence to the inverse.


Ok, I'll grant I'm speaking as a complete amateur here, not a student of Descarts or anything like that. But I always took "I think, therefore I am" as something along the lines of "Since there is an *I* doing the thinking, it must therefore be the case that such an *I* does in fact exist." In other words, he's proving to HIMSELF that he must really exist based on the evidence that he is self-aware. True, one might be MISLED into believing one is self-aware, but even that would prove the existence of the one being misled.

It's not that thought preceeds being. Rather, thought is irrefutable EVIDENCE of being.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

Descartes spends much considering that he is indeed being fooled. He attempts to integrate this possibility.


Yeah, that's exactly what I was getting at. Once you start down the road of skepticism of one's own senses, what CAN you trust? Well, one thing one can know irrefutably is that "I exist", not because I know what my body looks like (I may be misled about that), but because there must be an *I* to ask the question "What can I really know?" in the first place. The one asking himself that question must exist.

I used to spend hours arguing about whether "I feel pain" is something one can know indisuputibly to be true. Can you believe you are feeling pain but be mistaken in that belief? I tend to think not.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

What scientists actually do is creat MODELS OF THE WORLD and they are legit in picking by consensus the one that seems best to match the facts. They are not "voting" to force something to be true. They are zeroing in, empirically, on the model that predicts future experimental results best...


I once read an Asimov essay where he described the progression of how people once thought the earth was flat, then thought it was spherical, then that it was pear-shaped, then that it was asymmetrically pear-shaped, etc. And that the simplistic view of that is "Well, all those earlier models were disproven, so chances are the current one is also false." But the educated response is to realize that each model was SOMEWHAT correct, and that each successive model was MORE correct than what came before.

"Barack Obama is our 44th president" is an incorrect statement because that figure assumes you count Grover Cleveland twice. But it is nowhere near AS wrong as "Aaron Burr is our 44th President". Not all "wrongs" are equal.

In the same book, Asimov talked about misnomers such as locumranch's hang-up about "augmented reality." He was discussing "vitamins", which were named for being amines, even though many later-discovered vitamins didn't belong to the amine group at all. Said Asimov: "We've also known for 400 years that 'oxygen' is a misnomer, but what are you going to do?" I miss that guy.

Jumper said...

Larry Hart, hot peppers. But I understand your point and can't disagree.

LarryHart said...

Jumper,

I didn't say you can't feel pain without physical injury. What I said was, if you THINK you feel pain, then you DO feel pain. It's not something you can be misled about.

locumranch,

Again, my own admittedly-amateur reaction, but to me, "virtual reality" does not translate to "fake reality." More like "close enough to the real thing to PASS FOR reality."

David Brin said...

Wow. I'll give this to locumranch, he seems to have stirred this blogmunity out of a recent torpor. For a while I wondered if it might be an "old friend" who was banished from this place years ago, yet keeps coming back under different names... especially given the snarks about my "large house...

...but a little semantic analysis shows locum is a much saner and different individual and despite my occasional rebukes he shows real intelligence. Let's keep him!

locumranch said...

Compliments like that make me feel like a real tool.

David claims that Scientists "are zeroing in, empirically, on the model that predicts future experimental results best”, whereas I beg to differ. I say that Scientists are zeroing in, empirically, on the model that best reflects PAST experimental results, after the fact, in the belief that the past will eventually recapitulate the future.

This is the main reason that I cannot accept Climate Change theory as gospel -- even though I accept that CO2 makes a pretty good 'greenhouse' gas -- because the current model is woefully incomplete, failing to account for the paleoclimatological ice core record of rising & falling temperatures in the presence of a Feed-Forward Loop wherein rising global temperatures 'should have' caused CO2 to come out of solution and increase both temperature & atmospheric pCO2 concentrations ad infinitum, but it hasn't and doesn't appear to happen, at least not according to the scientific record.

And, if wishful thinking is the antithesis of the scientific method, then "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" is probably a poor model with which to guide ... Oh, forget it ... I'll try to be good. It's been fun arguing with all of you.


Best.

Alfred Differ said...

'Zeroing' in on a model is probably a bit of a stretch for what we are doing. That choice of words suggests the innovation series converges. History suggests it is a little chaotic full of Taleb's black swans and Kuhn's paradigm shifts.

What IS true is that we tend to dump models when newer, better ones come along. Sometimes better means more prediction precision. Sometimes it is accuracy. Sometimes it is an overhaul of the explanatory narrative underlying the predictions. Sometimes we swap narratives and gain nothing (or even loose a little) in predictions but gain a lot for new ideas to explore. We began to dump Ptolemy's astronomy before we had a good replacement and adopted Kepler's approach before we had a good narrative 'explaining' it.

A philosopher's view of what we do when we do science isn't flattering, but neither is it all that useful. It is startling just how effective we've been pursuing Reductionism, but it works well where it works well.

No matter how the philosophers see us, though, our little community is an existence proof for the value of 'classically' liberal freedom to think and explore. People sometimes take this value a bit too far and assume the institution can work for non-science subjects, but we learn our limits through social experiments and open discussions, so the harm is temporary.


For criticism of science models, however, I think it is quite fair for those of who who think the models work well to call out anyone who argues that they are 'woefully incomplete' and demand they demonstrate their relevant knowledge. A good physical model can be complex to operate making it a difficult thing for an amateur to learn let alone learn well enough to see the flaws. So... speak up!

Tony Fisk said...

Locumranch, I'm not sure what you mean when you refer to 'failing to account for the paleoclimatological ice core record of rising & falling temperatures in the presence of a Feed-Forward Loop'.

If you are referring to cases where the geological record suggests that temperatures rose *prior* to (atmospheric) CO2 concentrations rising, there is a pretty good explanation given at Sceptical Science

Robert said...

There is a very simple test by which anyone can prove to Climate Denialists about the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Tell them to take two jars. Put a thermometer in each. Put a beeswax candle with a short wick in one (to minimize soot), light the candle, and let it go out due to oxygen starvation. Keep the jars covered.

Then put the CO2 jar in the refrigerator to cool it down. That way there is no possibility of them claiming "well, the candle warmed it up!"

Then have them put BOTH jars in the sunlight, in the same area of sunlight. And then watch and see which one gets hotter.

It's a simple test. It's an easy test. It doesn't even cost a lot. And I bet the Denialists will refuse to take this test because it's not about carbon dioxide warming the atmosphere. It's about them not wanting to be bothered to do anything because it would inconvenience them. Denialists are the same types as those who toss their trash out of the car window because "everyone else does it, look at all the trash on the side of the road. And it even provides jobs for convicts to clean up the sides of road."

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Bah, I asked a simple question locumranch. What is your scientific experience and background, because your repeatedly and relentlessly make grand and profound statements that reveal you to be an armchair general and a clueless amateur.

SO models are based upon past results? Um... tautology? Duh? Are you proclaiming to all that TIME exists? So what? Scientists use those past results to create testable hypotheses and they rush out to perform those tests.

You are repackaging Michael Crichton's clever polemic in which he concludes we cannot prove anything, ever. Causation is mythology.

He then goes on to claim that therefore scientists have nothing to offer to those deciding public policy. Since they cannot 100% prove that something is "true" - the best "model" should be ignored by politicians and warnings about possible dangers shrugged off.

Lizy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sociotard said...

The prophet of the Age of Amateurs demands the credentials of any who would challenge the professional caste

Duncan Cairncross said...

"The prophet of the Age of Amateurs demands the credentials of any who would challenge the professional caste"

That made me spill my coffee!

But David did ask a serious question - you can be an amateur BUT you DO need to do some basic research before you charge in guns blazing

How do we determine if an opinion has some thought behind it or not??

Alfred Differ said...

I don't think David was asking for evidence of a degree in the field or transcripts to show grades. 8)

Asking for someone to describe their experience with a field is like asking an essay question on a test. By the time the person is done writing, the experienced reader will know if the answer demonstrates knowledge of the material or not. Whether the answer agrees with the current paradigm doesn't matter much, but the more a person writes the more a reader can distinguish between deep comprehension, shallow exposure, and a smoke screen.

When I taught astronomy I stuck to free-form questions like that. They are a pain to grade, but they show what a student has managed to absorb and what I managed to mess up. I remember well the confusion my students had when they mixed the impact of ozone depletion and the runaway green house concept. It turns out that I taught both subjects on the same day. If I split them out, students generally did better. 8)


Good amateurs are worth their weight in gold to a researcher who knows how to tap their vigor. Professionals who snub them are relegating themselves to the backwaters when it comes to productivity.

locumranch said...

I'm not a CC denialist in any true sense & my reservations about the predictive accuracy of simulation science are not just philosophically based. Instead, I am critical of a simulation methodology which assumes a stable system near equilibrium and cannot help but ignore the influence of unknown or undocumented variables.

If we assume a stable system, then we can conclude that the current CC Model does a pretty good job at predicting (balancing) environmental temperature, pCO2 and CO2 solubility in water because this is a known (kinetic) relationship that remains fixed & predictable within established margins.

Yet, I recognize that simulations cannot predict the future behaviour of unexamined systems, and I am not alone in this regard. This fact is well-recognized by NASA who, with different assumptions regarding the rapid accumulation of atmospheric particulates, predict & model the the very opposite of global warming.

Some of my skepticism regarding the predictive value of CC Science springs from a lack of data about Transition Zones or "tipping points" when equilibrium rules no longer apply. Other concerns include (but are not limited to) the accuracy of the ice-core derived CO2 range. And, perhaps, some of my CC issues may spring from plain bloody-mindedness or philosophical sources as Adiffer suggests.

With a background in biochemistry, physiology, medicine & literature, science and critical reasoning ain't my strong point. But who knows? I may change my fickle fickle mind if you can help me answer the following CC questions:

1(a) How does ice core analysis establish the historic range of pre-industrial atmospheric CO2?
1(b) What is the maximum CO2 (ppm) carrying capacity of water ice if we assume a constant pressure of 1 atm?

2(a)If increases & decreases in temperature & CO2 are ALWAYS proportional, then what 'triggers' the rapid climate (hot/cold) transitions documented in the ice core record?
2(b) What comes first? A change in pCO2, a change in temperature or do both factors change in simultaneous fashion mediated by a yet undefined mechanism?

3(a) CO2 makes up what percentage of Earth's Atmosphere?
3(b) How long would it take for increasing atmospheric CO2 levels to double at the current rate?
3(c) And how would plants respond to a doubling of atmospheric C02 according to agricultural studies?


Best.

Duncan Cairncross said...

1(a) How does ice core analysis establish the historic range of pre-industrial atmospheric CO2?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core

1(b) What is the maximum CO2 (ppm) carrying capacity of water ice if we assume a constant pressure of 1 atm?
Strange question - if the partial pressure of CO2 is 1bar then 100%

2(a)If increases & decreases in temperature & CO2 are ALWAYS proportional, then what 'triggers' the rapid climate (hot/cold) transitions documented in the ice core record?
Volcano's, meteorites, solar cycles, orbital precession, continental drift (closing off ocean currents)- little green men

2(b) What comes first? A change in pCO2, a change in temperature or do both factors change in simultaneous fashion mediated by a yet undefined mechanism?
An initiating effect causes a change - and it all moves until it reaches a new equilibrium

3(a) CO2 makes up what percentage of Earth's Atmosphere?
400/1000,000 = 0.04%

3(b) How long would it take for increasing atmospheric CO2 levels to double at the current rate?

Was about 280 - now nearly 400 - gone up about 100 in 50 years so another 50 years should see double

3(c) And how would plants respond to a doubling of atmospheric C02 according to agricultural studies?
Depends on the plant - most like it

Took about 10 minutes to find the info

sociotard said...

Were I a denialist, I would point out that while the "candle in a glass jar" test does show that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it does so by converting most of the O2 in the jar into CO2, so it goes from 0.0004% to 20% CO2. That is different from showing noticible differences going from 0.0002% to 0.0006%, especially when water is also a greenhouse gase and makes up 0.5% of the atmosphere, sometimes more.

It's like trying to demonstrate that a soldier with a 40 lb pack will tire noticibly faster if he puts a deck of cards in his pack.

David Brin said...

I had a perfect right to ask what experience locum had in science, given that he was making grandiose declarations about the fundamental nature of the scientific process. Not credentials, but actual experience in an area where he was declaring - pretty damned explicitly - that he knew more about than the practitioners of the art.

I remain a believer in the Age of Amateurs. But we can only ask the professionals to listen to amateur participants if most of those amateurs also have the humility to ADMIT that they are amateurs! "Hey, I know less than you pros know about this, but I am curious, so I have some questions. I am probably mistaken and will learn a lesson with good humor… but I will also keep prodding because I THINK I see an area that you pros have missed."

THAT kind of amateur is worthy of respect. Not one who declares "I know this field better than any expert cause I watched some talking points on a blather TV show."

---
In fairness, locum does start asking questions… after once again avoiding answering my flat-out question about his experience DOING actual science. I feel unmotivated till he answers that.

I know folks who have successfully and accurately modeled climates on SIX planets. Others who helped transform the 2 hour "joke " Weather Report into a 10 day miracle. Sorry, those folks have cred in my eyes. Especially since the campaign against them is financed by coal barons and petro sheiks.

David Brin said...

And again I reiterate. Earth skates the very inner edge of Sol's Goldilocks zone, having to get rid of nearly all heat the instant after it arrives. Our Gaia balance requires an almost perfectly clear atmosphere. If Earth were at the orbit of Mars, she'd have oceans, warmed by a thick coat of CO2 That is how the Gaia Balance works..

So "only a little" greenhouse gas can do a LOT, where we are.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch,

If those are honest questions (meaning you don't know) then I encourage you to be careful of the input you get from model skeptics. Even asking 2(a) makes my teacher-self suspect you can't describe the parts of a good climate model let along the differences between the types of models. You may know some of the details, but without schematic knowledge of the parts you are in danger of adopting a passionate argument made by a skeptic because they will relate the part of the model they find problematic without all the contextual knowledge that would help you determine if they have a reasonable case.

For example, 2(a) is partially a matter of there being cycles in the orbital parameters of the Earth. There are other local causes, but the Earth's eccentricity and obliquity shift over long periods due to perturbations on us. Our solar orbit isn't stable. The planet might feel solid under your feet, but it is a spinning fluid with a flexible crust influenced by the Sun, Moon, and major planets. Those things matter over long periods of time. 8)

If you want to attack climate policy suggestions, though, there is a much better angle than to attack the science. In order to make future projections of the climate with the 'fact' that recent warming is caused by humans, we must factor human actions into the models. That means future-facing models must involve economic statements. Economics isn't a science, so the combined model is vulnerable to attack for being untestable. When was the last time someone made a falsifiable hypothesis about an economic event that could disprove the underlying theory if shown to be incorrect? 8)

If you want to attack nutty climate policy suggestions, point out how much Taleb's black swans matter in human affairs over a period of a generation or two. In the short run, they don't matter much... until they do. In the long run, they matter more than ANYTHING else we do.

Climate science is actually pretty good. Climate policy economics isn't.

locumranch said...

First, I’d like to say that David is right about me. I know very little about Climate Change, and despite a brief appearance in ‘FEBS Letters’, I am an amateur unsuited for pure research. So, let me tell you what I do NOT know about Climate Change, starting with what I know about my questions three:

1(a) I know that analysis of the Vostok ice cores estimate a historic atmospheric CO2 maximum of about 280 ppm and minimum of about 200 ppm. I also know that these minimum and maximum CO2 estimates are accepted by CC experts as the pre-industrial CO2 normal range.

1(b) I know that very few people have asked about the maximum CO2 (ppm) carrying capacity of water ice at the pressure of 1 atm, so in the absence of expert opinion, I am forced to rely on the maximum CO2 carrying capacity of Liquid Water at 0 degrees, which is 325 ppm, and assume that the the maximum CO2 carrying capacity of Water Ice would be slightly less as ice is slightly less dense than water.

So, this is what I don’t know -- What We Don’t Know -- about the Vostok ice core data. We don’t know what the historic atmospheric CO2 maximum is. It could be 500, 1000 or 5000 ppm for all we know. We just don’t know because Water Ice cannot carry more than about 300 ppm of CO2. Assuming a pressure of 1 atm, that is. Moving on to #2.



2(a) I know that, assuming steady state dynamics at 1 atm, temperature and CO2 are ALWAYS proportional. I also know that, due to a paucity of empiric data, the 'trigger' for rapid (hot/cold) climate transitions are unknown because no such CC Transition has occurred in the history of written language, especially in the temperate and extremely stable modern Holocene era.

2(b) And, as the trigger mechanism for climate change has yet to be identified, then we are just ‘supposing’ when we claim to know that the ‘Tipping Point’ for Climate Change is CO2. We don’t know if CO2 is the prime mover outside of steady state. It could be a sentinel. It could just be along for the ride.

Just add that last little tidbit to the growing list of things that I do not know about Climate Change. We don’t know the historic maximum of atmospheric CO2. We don’t know if the current CO2 level is average, aberrant or normal. And we don’t know if an alteration in pCO2 is enough to trigger a Transition Change. Moving on to question #3.

3(a) CO2 does make up about 0.04 % of the Earth's current atmosphere and, as gases go, I know that it is non-toxic to mammals at levels below 5000 ppm, tolerable up to 30,000 ppm, and potentially toxic in excess of 30,000 ppm. According to different experts, that is.

3(b) See 3(c)
 for more on 'doubling time'.

3(c) According to some agricultural studies, a CO2 level of 800 ppm is the ideal concentration for raising plants, increasing plant growth by up to 40%. Studies also suggest that single cell plants (phytoplankton) metabolize CO2 and produce up to 90% of the Earth’s oxygen. As for ‘doubling time’, phytoplankton can double their biomass in 12 days.

There are so many things that you & I do not know about Climate Change: We don’t know the historic maximum of atmospheric CO2. We don’t know if the current CO2 level is average, aberrant or normal. We don’t know if an alteration in pCO2 is enough to trigger a Transition Change. And, given an ideal CO2 level of 800 ppm, we don’t know how quickly phytoplankton will convert atmospheric CO2 into O2 and screw up everything that we do know.

We should be very, very afraid.

Best.

Duncan Cairncross said...

1(b) I know that very few people have asked about the maximum CO2 (ppm) carrying capacity of water ice at the pressure of 1 atm, so in the absence of expert opinion, I am forced to rely on the maximum CO2 carrying capacity of Liquid Water at 0 degrees, which is 325 ppm, and assume that the the maximum CO2 carrying capacity of Water Ice would be slightly less as ice is slightly less dense than water.

This is total nonsense - the CO2 is in air trapped in the ice - the amount that can be carried by the ice itself is irrelevant!!

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Alfred Differ said...

Sorry. My mind just hiccuped when I got to your statement that the Holocene has been stable.

(holding my mental breath for a moment)

No. It hasn't. We've seen significant variation in solar output since the invention of writing. We've even see the slow variation associated with orbit parameter changes.


Are you arguing that the notion that ice can't hold a lot of dissolved CO2 in it limits our knowledge of how much CO2 was in the atmosphere? Do you realize that we tend to analyze air bubbles trapped in the ice?

There are other proxies too. Do you know what the Oxygen isotope ratios imply? Carbon isotope ratios? Be-10 source in the soil?

We know a lot about climate from pre-history by reading the proxy data. It is ingenious stuff worth learning.

Tony Fisk said...

1(b) My understanding is that the concentrations of CO2 in ice are taken from trapped air bubbles, not the ice itself. So, I'm not sure of the relevance of the carrying concentration of CO2 in ice.

Human contributions to CO2 can be measured from the relative carbon isotope abundances. eg C14 is created in the atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray air bursts. It decays pretty quickly, on geological time scales, so carbon sourced from oil and coal contains none. This means that, if increased CO2 levels arises from fossil fuels, the atmospheric C14 ratio will be reduced. This is what has been observed.

Tim H. said...

Perhaps in So CAL, a ten day forecast can be accurate, I've heard the weather can be boring there. In the Kansas City area extended forecasts tend to be a rough guide, and an accurate ten day forecast would be miraculous.

Tim H. said...

Something interesting on the efficiency front:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/stories/88acres/88-acres-how-microsoft-quietly-built-the-city-of-the-future-chapter-1.aspx

Tony Fisk said...

I prefer to use the word 'concerned', rather than 'afraid'. Panic-mongering is not helpful.

Paul451 said...

It's a shame they don't include error bars (or lines, or shading) with the long term forecast. It would give a good idea about areas of uncertainty. (Apparently they do multiple sims with slightly different starting variables to test how chaotic the output is, so they actually have the data right there.)

Knowing that days 4-6 have high uncertainty, but days 7-10 have growing certainty (say a nice big fat high coming in), would be very informative.

Paul451 said...

(Oops, that was about weather forecasts. Not Climate. Climate scientists do publish their error bars.)

Tony Fisk said...

Being able to produce a 7-day forecast for *Melbourne* is an astounding achievement!

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

It may be unfruitful to attempt to learn the huge mass of actual global warming knowledge from David Brin's site when there are fulltime specialists' sites devoted to it. I read some on William Connolly's site, for example
http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/19/theres-no-light-the-foolish-ca/
or here:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/what-if-the-hockey-stick-were-wrong/

Also, CO2 is insoluble in water ice; it does not occupy significant lattice space. Freeze some sparkling water solid,the CO2 will have sublimed in a short period.

Jumper said...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11659-climate-myths-ice-cores-show-co2-increases-lag-behind-temperature-rises-disproving-the-link-to-global-warming.html
This seems to address some of locumranch's concerns

Jumper said...

Paul451, that would be an odd graphic. Some error bars would decrease and some would increase. Interesting. The hurricane tracks show the error increase in time projections already, of course.

Randy Winn said...

@Alfred Differ

"...A philosopher's view of what we do when we do science isn't flattering...

I suggest it's jealousy. Philosophy has never buttered a parsnip.

And, while I am not a scientist, most of the philosophical objections I have read against the scientific method seem to rather miss the point. One may as well criticize the NBA for not using the Infield Fly Rule.

David Brin said...

This nature show is a game-changer. Watch it and make everyone you know watch it. I saw an early version and it left everyone speechless in awe. CHASING ICE is a documentary by and about one of the world's greatest adventurers, who spent years with his brave & hardy team designing, building and setting up some of the world's toughest cameras to endure the world's toughest environments, all to track by time-lapse whether glaciers are growing or shrinking. It's spectacular to watch, long before you finally get to see the hard-won footage.

Chasing Ice premieres on the National Geographic Channel, Friday, April 19, 8PM ET (check local listings). And yes, your crazy denialist uncle will find any excuse to avoid watching, because he will know in advance where this goes, where it has to go, where undeniable, bald-faced video footage takes anyone who has the basic curiosity and honesty to watch.

Oh… you have never seen anything till you've watched a chunk of glacier the SIZE OF MANHATTAN break off of Greenland and go belly up in a spectacular roar. Watch it 95% just to know there are still adventurers in the world who can bring home to us tales of wonder, worthy of Amundsen.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/a-night-of-exploration/episodes/chasing-ice/

David Brin said...

Locum once again thinks he has a handle on what experts have missed... tho he's now more circumspect in how he expresses it. Okay, fair enough.

1) What Earth could stand in CO2 levels in the past is not as germane as he thinks. The sun is gradually inexorably getting hotter, The inner edge of the goldilocks zone used to be millions of miles farther in. We cannot afford what used to be normal.

2) The carrying capacity of the oceans is clearly vastly greater that we thought, since half the CO2 seems to have simply vanished. This should NOT be comforting. If you ponder it, it should scare the shit out of any thinking person.

(3) the possible tipping point blurp of tundra methane and deep see hydrate methanic ices is what terrifies me above all.

5) What's your point? These days, alas, there are few climate "skeptics" who are not serving the interests of a despicable denialist cult. Dig it. If every climate scientist were wrong and we became more energy efficient just in time to enable 7 billion new people to join the middle class and live in comfort, without bleeding the Earth dry.... and then found out there's no climate change... the Horrors!

To have made a vastly better world... and to find out we did it while being scared of a surface reason that was wrong or exaggerated???? Agh! Please allow me to commit seppukku at once!!!!

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

If you want to attack climate policy suggestions, though, there is a much better angle than to attack the science. In order to make future projections of the climate with the 'fact' that recent warming is caused by humans, we must factor human actions into the models...


It occurs to me that we're being misled into asking the wrong question.

The climate IS changing in ways that are becoming dangerous to the survival of civilization.

It shouldn't really be a question of "Are humans causing global warming?" with the implication that humans should only try to do something about it if we're to blame in the first place.

Rather we should be asking "What can we do to forestall global warming?" regardless of what the cause of that warming is.

In what other area of human endeavor is it presumed that we shouldn't bother addressing/solving a problem unless we caused the problem in the first place?

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

Perhaps in So CAL, a ten day forecast can be accurate, I've heard the weather can be boring there. In the Kansas City area extended forecasts tend to be a rough guide, and an accurate ten day forecast would be miraculous.


If I recall correctly, the nature and rough path of Hurricane Sandy was predicted over a week out, despite the unusual nature of the storm (the way it intensified as it moved north). I was impressed.

Alfred Differ said...

@Randy Winn: Jealousy? Heh. That would make sense of some of what I've read. So many people think Science is about determining the truth (it isn't) so maybe they are trying to defend their turf. 8)

I've read arguments against the scientific method and I have to agree with them up to a point. There is more than one method in use as some sciences are just a little easier when it comes to setting up repeatable experiments. With multiple methods that share much in common, there are multiple sciences that don't necessarily align with the usual categorization method. That's fine up until it comes time to decide what isn't a science because we have to draw a line in the sand. Drawing that line is more about social custom than it is about some universal truth, so I've learned to accept that too. A subject that gets excluded from the science club isn't diminished, though. I argue that most of human knowledge comes from subjects that are currently excluded.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: I suspect part of the reason people want to duck the accusation that they are the cause is that they want to duck the blame. A person who causes harm is morally obligated to stop once they become aware, right? If I accept blame, am I supposed to give up my car and other parts of my cushy US lifestyle? Heh. It ain't gonna happen. I'm willing to trim, but I'll offer a black swan counter-argument that includes a sections borrowed from Smith and Ricardo. Our way out is to make energy from carbon expensive and encourage the worlds fat cats to escape the trap through innovation.

locumranch said...

Again, I remind you that CO2 does dissolve in liquid water at concentrations that correspond with the Temperature v. CO2 Solubility Curve listed at http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html.

It is an established scientific FACT that the maximum CO2 carrying-capacity of Liquid Water @ 0 degrees C is about 325 ppm (assuming 1 ATM pressure) AND the FACT that CO2 is less soluble in Water Ice only supports my assertion that Ice Core data is erroneous in regard to the historic maximum of atmospheric CO2.

It is very telling that many off you choose to mock and ignore this scientific datum rather then responding to it in the appropriate manner by proving BY PROVING ME WRONG with actual evidence.

It is beginning to appear that many of you are as pureblind and irrational as the wanks at Fox News who mock and reject any datum that threatens their extremely narrow worldview or their sacred mystical belief system.

PROVE ME WRONG with data or admit that you possess all the maturity of 'white males between the ages of 12 and 25' who prefer to read fairy tale about cavorting golems made of magical clay instead contributing to society in a concrete or rational fashion.

Best.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Again, I remind you that CO2 does dissolve in liquid water at concentrations that correspond with the Temperature v. CO2 Solubility Curve listed at http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html.

And AGAIN I tell you that the CO2 from ice samples is
FROM AIR BUBBLES - NOT DISSOLVED!

If any CO2 did dissolve in the ice (which it won't) it would REDUCE the measured levels

Jumper said...

No one has said why this matters.

Tony Fisk said...

Duncan beat me to it.

Locumranch, you may have missed the point before, but if you continue to do so, you will end up looking as if you are trying some acts of legerdemain in front of a few trained magicians.

Jumper, it matters because locumranch is claiming that a technique used to measure levels of CO2 in the past is invalid. Duncan is rightly pointing out that the technique looks at gas bubbles trapped in ice (*NOT* dissolved: mingling at an atomic level)

David Brin said...

And I tell you that my friends in the biz are scratching their heads, wondering what sink has pulled out a large % of the excess CO2... so far. They are frightened that, whatever it is... may be reaching saturation.

Attempts to portray scientists as glibly sure of themselves are pretty dumb. But I assure you, they know the basic chemistry locum is reciting.

Jonathan Roth said...

Disturbing anti transparency attempt: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/16/3986274/move-is-afoot-to-make-government.html

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch:

You are proving you don't know how the models work. We aren't picking on you or dodging your point. The problem is that your point about 'carrying capacity' is misguided. Ice can carry practically no CO2 if you require it be dissolved in the water or LOTS if air bubbles get trapped.

Take a look at the ice core images on the Wikipedia page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core) You'll see the air bubbles. Those bubbles get trapped with samples of what was actually in the air when the snow settled.

Pile a lot of snow on the ground and you'll get air between the flakes. That air can mix with the air above the snow for a little while, but if the snow layer ever gets too thick, the pressure on the flakes can climb high enough that they will flex and link up. The air between the flakes gets trapped that way like a sponge with pores that get sealed shut.

They find a lot more than CO2 in those air bubbles and in the ice. They find the other proxy data too along with pollen, dust, and bits and pieces of other things. All those other things help tell a story of what was occurring in the region when the snow hit the ground.

locumranch said...

You are confusing 'object permanence' with object permeability because the Ice Core samples in question are not 'air-tight'.

Admittedly, the Ice Core samples in question are only weakly permeable, but over the course of millions of years, a certain amount of internal-to-external and external-to-internal gaseous bleeding and blending is inevitable, at least until the involved gases reach some sort of steady-state equilibrium.

And, as I am not an enabler, I do not bother to "portray scientists as glibly sure of themselves" because most are fully capable of doing that for themselves, much in the same manner of any human whose capacity for intelligence is only equaled by the all-to-human capacity for self-delusion & self-aggrandizement.

This why the most avante-garde scientist, one who waxes poetic about egalitarianism and the unlimited intellectual capacity of the 'Amateur', may simultaneous attempt to shame, humiliate and belittle any individual who appears to lack the superior credentials of the self-identified professional elite.

Best.

locumranch said...

If I could save (gas) in a (Bobble)
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to (test) them (for CO2)

If I had a box just for (gases)
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how the (gases diffused right on thru).

We've heard this song before.

Best.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Locumbranch

Use your "theory" that the CO2 would
"over the course of millions of years, a certain amount of internal-to-external and external-to-internal gaseous bleeding and blending is inevitable, at least until the involved gases reach some sort of steady-state equilibrium."

And draw the obvious conclusion,
What would you expect to see in your results?
If your hypothesis was correct the measured CO2 would be on a smooth curve - as it approached "some sort of steady-state equilibrium."

Then look at the actual data - what do you see? - is it a smooth curve?
Is it bollocks - it's an interesting jaggy thing - and it's the same interesting jaggy thing at other locations

Scientists are bad at looking for faults in their own work - but they do try very hard
Which is why other scientists try and rip it apart - and they are VERY GOOD at finding faults in other peoples work!

Anyway - your hypothesis dies at the first test - a predicted result did NOT HAPPEN

Tim H. said...

Something to consider on climate, some of the proposed changes will have benefits beyond just cutting carbon, enough so, greens could even go stealth on the subject and sell remediation as closing dangerous mines, energy self sufficiency and protecting the poor from extreme weather.

Tony Fisk said...

Interesting to see a change in counter-argument without admitting the error in the original reasoning.

Tim H. said...

My problem has been more with how we get there than the strength of climate models, and is the goal a solution, or winning an argument?

Jonathan S. said...

I agree that arguing over whether global climate change is necessarily humanity's fault is the wrong question.

When you're in a car that's careening toward a cliff, do you step on the brake? Or do you waste your time arguing over whose fault it is that you're in this situation?

Let's do what we can to slow or reverse this process. After we've saved the world, there'll be a lot more time to figure out who or what started it.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch,

hmpf! As if the chemists can't figure out the diffusion rate of CO2 and other gases through ice under pressure at various temperatures... what nonsense. They know, for example, that helium can escape. It is easy enough to set up the experiment and watch the diffusion rate. Of course, helium gets out of most traps, so this isn't a surprise.

CO2 molecules aren't tiny. While they can diffuse, the rate IS tiny below a certain depth in the ice. The firn/ice transition layer is a number of meters down and depends on the type of snow and temperature, but ice below that layer generally traps the air. The trick is getting it to the surface intact without losing the evidence.

Also, I haven't seen ice core data with ages more than 1 million years old. Most ice on Earth is relatively young. Even Antarctic ice tends to flow off the continent and into the sea eventually, so there is a limit. The Vostok cores don't even go back half a million years. The ice associated with EPICA goes further back.

Remember that the Panamanian isthmus is probably about 3 million years old. Before it formed, the central american seaway allowed pacific and atlantic oceas to mix. Because the big ocean currents were different back then, there would have been a lot less ice at or near the poles. Redirection of the warm atlantic current nortward dumped a lot of snow at high latitudes helping to bring about modern ice age. You can look all this up if you want, but I point to it to help you put a limit on the age of data available from ice cores. If there is no ice, there are no trapped air bubbles to examine, right? 8)

Randy Winn said...

@Tim H. said...
"... some of the proposed changes will have benefits beyond just cutting carbon..."

On a very micro level, I just got a check from my local utility for part of the cost of installing a rain garden/cistern system that will help cut the untreated sewage that is discharged into Puget Sound during big rainstorms (... necessary now, and more necessary as GCC alters our precipitation.)

In the process of performing this project and trying to minimize waste, I conceived of "onsite waste disposal"; the contractor was accustomed to trucking away the sod and busted concrete torn up to make the garden, but was amenable to figuring out ways to dispose of it that didn't involved burning gas. "D'oh!" we soon realized "We can use that stuff to build the walls of the raised bed and other features!"

In retrospect, on-site disposal is obvious, but our experienced contractor hadn't done this before. We ended up shipping out almost zero waste, trucking in that much less fill, and grossly cutting the carbon impact of construction (...not to mention saving a little money!)

Now this is a tiny example, but I hope it's an example of how the challenge of minimizing impact can lead to innovation. It's fun AND it saves money in the long run. I'll bet many of you will face some such issue this year ... who's afraid of a challenge?

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