Monday, June 5, 2017
The map is not the territory.
Electricity has become a luxury good in Germany.
If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983
The world is “laughing (and) crying at the President of the United States, who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry
General hysteria prevails among the untrained journalists of the mainstream media, but there seems to be little discussion of the actual effects of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords on the actual global temperature. If the US had implemented the goals promised by President Obama, the actual effect on global temperatures of the policies, which would almost certainly have been detrimental to the US economy would, by their own estimates, have been lost in the noise; US CO2 contribution has been very low compared to that of China and India, who promised only to keep building energy plants working as efficiently as they can make them; but will include plenty of fossil fuel plants. That will inevitably raise CO2 levels no matter what the US does.
A great deal of hysteria has been displayed on both sides of the Atlantic after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations in 2015. But the “sky is falling” chant should be ignored. A much louder and far more authoritative chorus has chimed in: the Dow Jones Industrial average hit a record on June 1, surging upward after the President delivered the news. And it hit another high the following day. Everyone whose business it is to understand economics knows that lifting the burden of the UN climate campaign off the United States will be good for energy generation, industrial production, job creation and all the national prosperity that will follow.
One of the most inaccurate as well as hostile statements came from former Secretary of State John Kerry who helped negotiate the Paris deal: “The president who promised ‘America First’ has taken a self-destructive step that puts our nation last. This is an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership which will cost us influence, cost us jobs, and invite other countries to walk away from solving humanity’s most existential crisis.” Let’s take each sentence in turn. The President’s decision clearly put America first by giving priority to national economic growth rather than retarding it by imposing pointless Green regulations that would have crippled it. The impact would be dire both domestically and in competition with other countries, like China, who had made it clear than accord or no; they would not limit their expansion of production and energy use.
For a reasonable summary see the above.
There seems to be no movement toward research into CO2 removal technology. I think that is a mistake. CO2 levels are certainly increasing although so far not to any level worth worrying about; but they are rising, and it seems reasonable to at least study ways we could reduce them at need.
reader comments on sunspot levels
I’m a little confused by the comments by Stephanie Osborn.
I believe that the Maunder minimum is sometimes suggested as the cause of the little ice age. This was a prolonged (28 year) period of low sunspot levels, roughly coincident with a pronounced, decades long cooling in Europe. It seems a stretch to draw any conclusions by comparing a couple of months of sunspot data to short term weather variations.
Also, it seems like I’ve been seeing stories about low sun spot levels for years, usually accompanied by suggestions that cooling is about to start happening. Yet directionally, temperatures are still either flat or rising, depending on the time frame you use. So if we have flat or rising temperatures during a period of low sunspot activity, what will happen when sunspot levels return to normal?
Perhaps I am dense, but I do not understand your confusion. During the Viking Medieval times, the Earth was warmer than it is now; how much warmer we do not know, but some working dairy farms, hundreds of years old, are just now emerging from Greenland Ice today. In the Northern Hemisphere growing seasons were longer (according to both European monastery and Chinese bureaucracy records) in Viking times; there is less evidence concerning climate in the Southern Hemisphere, but there is some evidence, and not much to contradict that conclusion. Needless to say, there are no working dairy farms in todays warming but not yet warm Greenland; it’s a reasonable conclusion that the Earth was warmer then, in historical Viking times, than it is now.. This Warm started in about 850 AD and ended rather abruptly in the early part of the 1300’s.
The Earth is currently in a recession of the Ice Ages that covered much land with kilometers of Ice; this remission was thought to be temporary when I was in school, but the general notion that we are in an Ice Age but fortunately in a period of remission was not really questioned. There was no general agreement on what caused the Ice Ages. Ben Franklin, having witnessed some violent eruptions of Iceland volcanoes, hypothesized that it might be volcanic ash raising the reflectivity of the Earth to Solar radiation.
What caused the Ice Ages, and whether we are still in an Ice Age, was a popular topic of high school and collegiate debate.
Whatever the cause, the Viking Warm period ended rather abruptly with a very wet period in the 1320’s, and a period of cooling began. This has become known as the “Little Ice Age.”
Several hundred years intro this period, sunspots were discovered and serious study of them began. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_Minimum During much of this period very few sunspots were observed. About 1750 the number of sunspots increased, and – perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not – the Earth began to warm. It was still cold enough in 1776 for the cannon captured by Ethan Allen from the British fortress Ticonderoga to be carried across the frozen Hudson River to General George Washington in Harlem Heights, facilitating his retreat and the survival of the Continental Army. Sometime before 1850 the Hudson was no longer freezing hard enough to walk across, and little ice forms now; it is safe to say the Earth was colder in those day than it is now.
Dr. Osborne has been recording the sunspot counts for the past few years; this may or may not be an indication of future solar activity and thus insolation of the Earth. That is independent of any estimate of Earth temperature, which is difficult; the operations taken to generate a number called the annual Earth temperature for any given year are very complex, and the same procedures are not always – sometimes cannot be – used each year. There are a number of ‘adjustment’ variables, and these are not generally discussed nor does everyone agree on the adjustments.
It is generally agreed that there was a general warming trend beginning in the 1700’s and continuing until the end of the Twentieth Century. There are conflicting theories on the role of solar activity and the interpretation of sunspot numbers in predicting it.
Just a few things to possibly clarify:
1) Yes indeed, I have been following sunspot numbers for many years now. And while sunspot numbers have been decreasing steadily for several cycles to date, the current dearth is very unusual — especially for this point in the cycle — and, to quote my favorite Vulcan, “Fascinating.” I am definitely continuing to keep an eye on the activity, or rather lack thereof.
2) There is a new model out (the “double-dynamo” model of the solar interior), only about 2 years old, which does a reasonable (though not perfect; it’s still not complex enough, IMHO) job of predicting extended solar minima, as well as the somewhat unusual “two-hump” shapes of recent solar cycles (when sunspot numbers vs. time are plotted). This model is predicting an extended minimum beginning in about 10-15 years, and this roughly matches my own considerations based on observation. (I think I referenced the model’s prediction in my original email, which you excerpted, though I may not have been clear enough; sometimes I forget not everyone is in the astronomical field, hence not familiar with the things I am. My bad.) If it is, indeed, not complex enough (as I strongly believe), then it may be that said extended minimum may begin sooner or later than predicted. The current rather precipitous decrease in sunspot numbers so soon after a solar max — which was itself somewhat paltry — may indicate an early start…or not. We will have to wait and see.
3) The “Little Ice Age” was actually a significantly extended cool period lasting several centuries, and no less than FOUR extended minima occurred during its “tenure.” These include, in order, the Wolf, the Spörer, the Maunder, and the Dalton minima. These extended minima were not all of the same “depth,” in that the minimum numbers of sunspots were not the same across all of them — the Maunder was far deeper than the rest — but as I mentioned previously, there are indications that we are hitting numbers in the range of the Dalton already. [Note that, during the Maunder Minimum, sunspots became so rare, that a grand total of only ~50 were observed over 28 years — this corresponds roughly to two and a half solar cycles. In a “normal” cycle, we would expect to see around 50,000 sunspots in that same timeframe, some three orders of magnitude more.]
4) The fact that, as sunspot numbers go down, the overall energies output by the Sun also go down is an indication that, in this instance, correlation may well equal causation, at least to some degree. Add in a few large volcanic eruptions to complicate matters — and there usually ARE some large volcanic eruptions in such timeframes, as a matter of course — and it may well prove interesting times ahead, as well as in the past.
5) The fact that cosmic ray fluxes are increasing is further indication that solar activity is decreasing, as the solar wind normally tends to provide a shield of some (relative) substance against cosmic rays, which originate outside our solar system, mostly from galactic sources (supernovae, active galactic nuclei, etc.). But as solar activity declines, the solar wind also declines, and so too would the cosmic ray flux increase, as the plasma which shields us from its entrance into the inner solar system decreases. (We still have the magnetosphere shielding us.)
I’m simplifying, of course; things are always more complex than meets the eye. But given the steady decrease in numbers for a good 3 or more cycles now (with considerable fluctuation for several cycles before that), I will be surprised if, at some time in the next few cycles, we do not enter an extended minimum, even if only of moderate depth. And it really isn’t a matter of “if,” but of when. Many variable star astronomers (and that’s what I studied in school — spotted variables, no less) consider that the Sun is at the very least borderline variable; some consider it outrightly so. I tend to fall in the latter camp; it all depends on the percentage of variability, and we are only now obtaining the kind of data we need to determine that. But it doesn’t actually take much.
At any rate, I’m back from my sojourn as Science Guest of Honor at ConCarolinas this past weekend, and starting to get rested up (they kept me busy!) so if I can answer any additional questions, just yell.
~Stephanie Osborn, “The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
Award-winning author of the Division One, Gentleman Aegis, and Displaced Detective series
Shuffling off this Mortal Coil, Jean Sammet, Co-Designer of COBOL, died May 20, 2017
In case you didn’t see this.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
Jean Sammet, Co-Designer of a Pioneering Computer Language, Dies at 89
By STEVE LOHRJUNE 4, 2017
Jean E. Sammet, an early software engineer and a designer of COBOL, a programming language that brought computing into the business mainstream, died on May 20 in Maryland. She was 89.
She lived in a retirement community in Silver Spring and died at a nearby hospital after a brief illness, said Elizabeth Conlisk, a spokeswoman for Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where Ms. Sammet had earned her undergraduate degree and later endowed a professorship in computer science.
The programming language Ms. Sammet helped bring to life is now more than a half-century old, but billions of lines of COBOL code still run on the mainframe computers that underpin the work of corporations and government agencies around the world.
Ms. Sammet was a graduate student in mathematics when she first encountered a computer in 1949 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She wasn’t impressed.
“I thought of a computer as some obscene piece of hardware that I wanted nothing to do with,” Ms. Sammet recalled in an interview in 2000.
Her initial aversion was not unusual among the math purists of the time, long before computer science emerged as an academic discipline. Later, Ms. Sammet tried programming calculations onto cardboard punched cards, which were then fed into a computer.
“To my utter astonishment,” she said, “I loved it.”….
The Basic Income
An idea which apparently has deep roots and can spring back to life after a burn over is that every person in a society is entitled to a Basic Income just for existing. A corollary is that this Basic Income should be adequate to support a self sufficient life style – what one might call a living non-wage.
Robert A Heinlein used the Basic Income as backdrop for his novel “Beyond This Horizon”. Others have made similar excursions with the idea.
The threat of artificial intelligence and its ability to replace workers has caused the idea to spring up once more.
An early proponent was Thomas Paine…
“Agrarian Justice, which was ultimately published in 1797, posited that “the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was…the common property of the human race.” Therefore, Paine argued, each landowner “owes to the community a ground-rent” to compensate the dispossessed for their loss.”
“Paine was proposing…money for everyone just for being alive and of age, delivered as a matter of “justice, and not charity.”
“[Congress can take a]…subsidy with strings attached—food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, anything like that—and instead simply send money to the people who qualify for it, letting them choose how to spend it.”
“Right now the system is set up to ask whether someone is poor enough to qualify for housing assistance, for health assistance, for food assistance, and so on. What if it just asked if someone is poor enough to qualify for assistance, period?”
Questions which came to mind as I read the article: 1) Can a Basic Income keep up with human desires? 2) Does every citizen (and legal resident) qualify for the Basic Income as a matter of right, or must additional conditions be met? 3) Can today’s bureaucrats who administer the many welfare programs be dispossessed of their jobs with their “Basic Incomes”?
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
It is an economics axiom that the demand for a free good has no limits.
Arizona Finds Simple Way To Get Rid Of Entitled Muslim Refugees: 1,000s LEAVING!
Trump’s only mistake,
I heard it said back in the 1970’s that Nixon’s big mistake was to leave all those holdovers from the LBJ era in place.
We all know that the bureaucracy has become a nest of Democrats, going back to the Kennedy days, and maybe the FDR days. Now, President Trump is reportedly leaving some 450 political appointees in place – and he wonders that his administration is so leaky. Probably the sole mistake he has made is to leave these Democrats in their jobs.
The superiority of fighting men
My father won a Silver Star fighting the Germans. He was on the tip of the southern encirclement of the Ruhr. He had nothing but respect for German soldiers, saying they were very good. Yet by lighting up every house they passed with fire rounds, by questioning displaced persons, by maneuvering around and coming at every crossroad from the rear, he covered 150 miles in 5 days – against determined opposition: after all, “Jerry” was defending his homeland.
So how do I parse what he told me? The Germans were very good, but his troops were better.
The German General Staff officers were questioned at length about US military performance. Their general conclusion was that unlike European professional troops, American soldiers were sometimes confused by military procedure, and took longer to perform basic tasks; but they did use ingenuity. “They knew less, and learned faster, than any others we fought.”
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.