Temperatures and strategies

View 824 Wednesday, May 14, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”


President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

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



Putting "Inevitable" Glacier Disappearance in Perspective

Remember when, for several years the IPCC continued to proclaim that all the Himalaya glaciers were going to have melted by 2035? They even denounced skeptics who disputed it as doing "voodoo" science.

"Indian Scientists: Himalayan Glaciers are Not Melting

Andrew Orlowski, The Register

Top Indian physicists have concluded Himalayan glaciers show little sign of retreat – in one of the largest studies of its type ever carried out."


I would be willing to take a bet that this new Antarctic glaciers melting story will also not stand up to scrutiny. And that when it is dropped it will get less media hoo-ha than the initial announcement has.

Neil Craig

I had much the same feeling. The credentials of the framers of the latest report seem to be in order, but how can you tell? The Manmade Climate Change Believers have engaged in many questionable, and some outright fraudulent, practices, and the Scientific Consensus establishment does not seem to have come down on them hard, as they should. I try to keep this a place for rational discussion, and I fully agree to the proposition that one is entitled to one’s own opinion, but there are facts – data – that must be agreed to.

In the case of Climate Change some data are not disputable. It has been getting warmer since early in the 19th Century. This is observed all over the globe, in almanacs, growing seasons, scientific expeditions that recorded both land and sea temperatures, etc.

What cannot be agreed to is the precision of the measured lower temperatures in, say, 1825. Most of those were taken with mercury thermometers, and we have no idea of just how precisely they were calibrated. I know that the old mercury thermometer that we used at our house in the 1930’s purported to give body temperature to 1/10th degree Fahrenheit. I also know it was subject to mechanical manipulation, and it was relatively delicate. The large red liquid thermometer outside the house was marked in 1 degree intervals, but it was large enough to let you estimate another decimal place.

Apparently the climate science community has decided that by 1870 data gathering and recording were good enough to allow establishment of an annual average global temperature accurate to 0.1 degree C. I have my doubts about this, but they are all what you would call “common sense” arguments, not data. Having had to establish temperatures accurate to 0.1 degree C in a laboratory, I know something of the difficulties involved. We only wanted a point skin temperature of an astronaut in a full pressure suit. Actually we wanted the temperature of a small copper disk to which we had soldered a thermocouple. The disk was smeared with a thermal conducting paste and taped to the back of the astronaut’s arm (others were placed at locations about his body); we assumed that the temperature of the disk was closely enough coupled with the actual skin temperature, and since all the disks and thermocouples were as identical as our technicians could make them, and all were taken on a setup that included a reference copper plate/thermocouple in a bowl of ice made from distilled water, this would have to do. After all, it was the relative temperatures taken in different conditions that we needed.

But that experience has made me leery of any temperatures said to be accurate to a tenth of a degree (C or F), and particularly of averages taken over vast areas. I would be hard put to come up with “the” temperature of Los Angeles right now to a tenth of a degree. It’s hot outside my house, hotter in the sun than in the shade. There’s a warm compressively heated wind from the high deserts fighting a cooler wind from the sea. If you then ask me to give you the average temperature in Los Angeles for the day (which would include the night) I’d have to argue that it can’t be done. We can take a series of measurements and average them, but the exposed to the sky temperature will depend on the cloud cover both day and night, while the temperature in the shade will depend entirely on air temperature and thus be more sensitive to which wind, Santana or ocean, prevailed at that location. I could go on listing difficulties, but you get the idea. Anything exposed to the night sky will be colder if there are not clouds. If there are clouds and it is not exposed to that 4 degree Kelvin dark, that changes things. But if it is exposed to the night sky at night it is exposed to the blazing sun by day. Unless there are clouds. At this point I begin to babble.

And when I see that the consensus of temperature rise from 1870 to present is measured to 0.1 accuracy (about 0.8 C), I just have to wonder how reliable that is. Surely different techniques and data gathering locations are used now from those employed back then. Yet it is widely reported that the Earth’s temperature rose by 0.8 degree C between 1870 and present (https://www.google.com/search?q=earth+temperature+1870+to+present&sa=X&biw=1005&bih=473&tbm=isch&imgil=RxbUv-HjO79I9M%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcRPof3yjHmOVhfkNlH6-Yg4gmzdvUElWTBGMKbu3Ve7y0Bk1ydBpw%253B670%253B717%253B4Jwy4vvzj7WnOM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fen.wikipedia.org%25252Fwiki%25252FCurrent_sea_level_rise&source=iu&usg=__9Nry8HpHXiTQoKuPzztCXDHFEQ4%3D&ei=VdpzU4OfHcKgogSG94DICw&ved=0CIMBEPUBMA0#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=RxbUv-HjO79I9M%253A%3B4Jwy4vvzj7WnOM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F5%252F5e%252FTrends_in_global_average_absolute_sea_level%252C_1870-2008_%28US_EPA%29.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FCurrent_sea_level_rise%3B670%3B717). That makes 0.1 degree fairly significant. And even this rise is disputed by those who find a cycle at work http://notrickszone.com/2013/12/03/german-scientists-show-climate-driven-by-natural-cycles-global-temperature-to-drop-to-1870-levels-by-2100/

Meanwhile current reports are that the ice is building up in Antarctica (Antarctic sea ice hit 35-year record high Saturday ).

I suspect you have good reason to doubt the inevitability of Antarctica land ice melting into the sea. All that ice forming down there must surely cool the water at the critical interface?

I have bills to pay. Back later this evening.


: civilization level -  

Hi Jerry,

I’ll be fascinated to hear more about the ‘civilization level’ that you discussed. Did the group talk about using energy production per capita as part of the calculation? It’s one you’ve talked about before, and at least here on earth, is a pretty good proxy for civilization. It might need some additional factors for cost and/or pollution per watt-hour too.



I said this last Sunday:

“Dr. Maccone’s metric for level of civilization is bits/person, a measure of information processing divided by the number of people in the civilization. The main critique I have of the measure is the denominator: you can change the metric by eliminating the low information members of the population. One can imagine situations in which survivors of a nuclear war would retain much of the technology, and quickly recover to become a considerably higher level of civilization (according to the metric) if the size of the denominator falls greatly relative to the numerator.”

I have not changed that opinion, but I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it. The concept of information processing as a measure of civilization level is intriguing, and I think may be very relevant, but it is also a very  complex measurement. If I have my doubts about out ability to measure the average temperature of the Earth for a year to a fraction of a degree, I have even more doubts about finding an average of information processing, since I think it obvious that the variation in information processing ability among the inhabitants of the Earth varies a lot. Even if we get the numerator of that measure right, the denominator is clearly wrong.  I haven’t a lot more to say on that as of now, but I won’t stop thinking about it.  It’s an exciting development in the SETI community, and they’ll have a lot more to say about it sometime soon.


Method To Russian Madness  Jerry,

Our President is on record that Putin doesn’t really have a strategy, that he’s making it up as he goes along. The best description I’ve seen of how that’s incorrect and what the Russians are methodically doing in Ukraine and elsewhere is at http://www.naa.mil.lv/~/media/NAA/AZPC/Publikacijas/PP%2002-2014.ashx

It’s a 15-page paper written by someone named Janis Berziš and published by the National Defence Academy of Latvia, Center for Security and Strategic Research. It’s clearly written, but impossible to summarize beyond saying that reading it will give you a basic grounding in why, if we assume Putin is just improvising, we’re going to lose Eastern Europe (and more) without ever knowing what hit us.

It also discusses potential counters, in the Baltic context but applicable elsewhere. (The next-gen warfare method described seems clearly to me also being practiced against us elsewhere, and by others.)

The bad news is, we’ll need to understand what we’re up against, adapt fast, and somehow somewhere find the collective will to take effective countermeasures. So far, I see little indication we’re managing even the first of those steps.


The Baltic Republics are in a better position to estimate what is going on – and are also set to be victims if Russia’s attempts to regain the western parts of the Empire are successful. After all, they were part of Russia for a long time.  Worse, the USSR had a policy of relocating Baltics from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the interior and replacing them with ethnic Russians. President Putin wants Russians. It is not obvious to me that he will want these Russians: many were happy enough to get out of Russia and into the Baltic regions, and at least some will be more loyal to their new homes than to their ethnic cousins. Others will not be.  One of my best sources for what was going on in Lithuania was Algis Budrys, a friend from 1962. AJ was the son of a high official of the Lithuanian diplomatic corps – the exile group that until the Treaty of Leningrad the United States recognized as the legal government of Lithuania. I was also friends with officials of the exiled Estonian diplomatic group. In general the only support Russia has within the Baltic States are the ethnic Russians brought into there; there is no desire to rejoin Russia.  Whether Russia can use ethnic Russian minorities in those Republics to fake a big native movement for rejoining the Empire will depend on the relative skills of the Russian and Western clandestine services.

Ukraine and Belarus are different, particularly Ukraine. After all, the Russian State began in Kiev, and there is not a great deal of ethnic difference between Ukrainian and Russians. They’re all Slavs and recognize themselves as Slavs. There will be a bit more Tatar mix the further east you go, and more Danish/Swedish mix the further west you go, but the differences are not obvious. Linguistically, Ukrainian and Russian have a common origin, but have changed considerably.  Russian is probably the majority language in enough of the eastern Ukraine to allow Russian manipulation; I would expect that one goal is a solid Russian connection to the newly acquired Crimea, and it is unlikely that anything the West can do, short of war, can prevent that. The last experiment on those lines was the Crimean War and the Charge of the Light Brigade.

President Putin needs Russians, and he will take them where he can find them.








Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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