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December 14, 2009
As I begin writing this, I can look across my desk at the security display of a hardened webserver under attack from a botnet. This attack has been going on for four days, and the botnet is about halfway through the alphabet of user IDs. At least it gives me a list of the IP addresses that the creep owns, but it would be nice to have one of those CIA systems that implement the extended kill command <http://tinyurl.com/yeoopax> (and to know where to send the command 8).
We were already seeing cutbacks in university and research funding some months ago, when the approval rate for research council grant proposals dropped into the single digits, there was a cut in university places, and student loans became hard to get. People currently doing 'green' research and capital investment have been commenting that the UK Government doesn't seem to have the money to match its rhetoric. <http://tinyurl.com/ybkwg3f> <http://tinyurl.com/y8fvrzu>.
Soak the middle class and tax jobs. <http://tinyurl.com/yl7tonp> Apparently the Prime Minister is in denial. <http://tinyurl.com/yb5r8qk> NHS cuts <http://tinyurl.com/y966qxz>. <http://tinyurl.com/ykyopah>
A friend who monitors UK politics tells me the current question under debate inside Labour is whether to call a snap election in March or wait to May. My suspicion is that Brown will imitate the Church Commissioners (who are known for their poor handling of church investments <http://tinyurl.com/yavjqqb>) and get it wrong whatever he does. Other Labour supporters think Brown is betting on a hung parliament--where no party can form a Government by itself and Labour remains a player <http://tinyurl.com/ye3s8ok>. See also <http://tinyurl.com/ydo98ud>, <http://tinyurl.com/y8qw4z9>, and <http://tinyurl.com/ya7wlqy>
Pound down 3% against the dollar in the last month. Fears of credit downgrade. <http://tinyurl.com/ycaj2pt>
UK terror police to monitor nursery-age children for signs of Islamic radicalisation <http://tinyurl.com/yc5cfot>.
New monitoring laws threaten educational programmes. <http://tinyurl.com/y8sgu69>
Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Security engineer and analyst. http://www.theworld.com/~herwin/
The proper response to misallocation of funds is often to cut the funding, but primary research is important to both nations and the human race. My solution is to fund contrarian studies with 5 to 10% of the total funding: challenge the assumptions. We'll learn something from the challenges.
I am not really pleased to see that education is as much a mess in England as in the US, It makes us competitive, but that's not a benefit to all. Racing to the bottom helps few except perhaps the racers.
Jerry - Another candidate similar to "Darwin Zero" has cropped up; very interesting!
John F. Gothard, Ph.D.
We can all agree that adjustments to the data are needed if trends are to have meaning, but it is important to (1) preserve and publish the primary data, the actual instrument readings, and (2) make it clear what adjustments were done, and why. I do not think this is being properly done.
Given the mail that you've received about AGW and your response about trying to ascertain a temperature, I thought I would relate an experience I had this morning.
I'm a Surveyor, and the distance measuring equipment I use must be corrected for atmospheric conditions, primarily ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure as it uses infrared frequency light to measure distances. Therefore I carry a Brunton Pocket Data Center to the field so I can enter those parameters into the instrument.
In a distance of half a mile, and 4 set-up points I noted a temperature differential of as much as a degree and half between traverse points. The temperature was not uniformly in one direction either, but varied up and down, from a low of 23 to a high of 28 degrees F. This was over pavement, in a mountain valley. I have seen this repeatedly throughout my 25 year career as an Engineer and Surveyor.
When I was in the Navy, as a Quartermaster (that's an enlisted navigator for Army and Air Force types) I also had to record sea temperature for weather reports we sent via radio (this was the early 70s). In an Atlantic crossing coming back from the Med the Skipper wanted a plot of the sea temp as we steamed from the Azores, to Bermuda, to the Virginia Capes. The temperature was fairly steady and did not, as you would expect, vary near as much as it would in the air. As I recall, it did not vary by more than 5 degrees from the Horta, Azores to the VACapes. The crossing was made at the time of the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
Such steady temps may not be the case in coastal waters, particularly where significant quantities of fresh water are intruding into the littoral zone. The ship was coming into port at those times, so we did not take sea temps. As a result, I can't speak to your assertion of variation of water temps off the Florida coast.
My observation - there is no way one can arrive at a reasonable approximation of a global temperature. There is simply too much variation, even over short distances. Those that think they can, in my opinion, are either frauds or aren't thinking it through.
Richard L. Hardison, PLS, PE, CFedS Waynesville, NC
One thing is clear: the primary data are not accurate to better than half a degree, and probably +- two degrees would be closer. My observation of the Florida Coast is simply inferred from the Gulf Stream. I understand that the sea temperatures tend to be constant over longer distances -- but the existence of El Nino and other such conditions show that they can vary widely, and so far we do not seem to have sound models of why.
More on how measurements are taken; emphasis added by JEP. Note the high-low averaging method, which cannot have been in use for more than 50 years.
I love hearing you on TWIT. I wish you would do it more often
Now what I really wanted to talk about:
Thanks for the essay about measuring temperatures. I agree 100% and have been saying similar things for years. If the measurements are not accurate, it is impossible to tease a 0.6 degree rise, world wide, out of the noise. Even if they are accurate, I doubt that it is possible. Two amplifications may be in order:
You mentioned that ocean temps are taken by throwing a bucket over the side and measuring the temp. While some temps are taken this way, my understanding is that the majority of the readings come from Navy logs. I used to be a Machinist Mate in the Navy back in the 60's & 70's and stood my share of messenger watches in the engine room. The principle duty of the messenger is to take 50-75 hourly readings of temperatures, pressures, oil levels and the like. In other words, I am one of the folks responsible for ocean temperature readings.
These were taken at the main condenser inlet. As it was not a particularly critical reading, we did not take a lot of pains to read it with a lot of precision. A quick glance and "Yup, still 68 degrees" and note it on the log sheet. Occasionally, I might have been detained in my rounds and would simply copy in the last hour's reading. The thermometer itself read in 1 or 2 degree increments so even a close reading would not have been that precise. I also don't remember the thermometer ever being calibrated.
I suspect that most sailors in the Navy took the readings in a similar manner. I would believe that they are accurate to within a degree or two, certainly not more. Possibly less. Other Navys probably take ocean temps similarly with similar degrees of accuracy.
You mentioned the different ways of getting average temps. One you left out that is still common in the NOAA temp stations is min-max. The thermometer has indicators that show the minimum and maximum temp in a 24 hour period. These are summed, divided by 2 and give an average for the period. I once had a discussion about how good this average was. As an experiment I found an airport (Pittsburgh, IIRC, but it doesn't really matter) that had a good set of hourly readings. I popped the readings for January 1 and June 1 in Excel and calculated the average based on 24 hourly readings as well as min-max.
I found that in the winter, the hourly readings gave a slightly, 1/4 to 1/2 degree average compared to min max. In summer this was reversed. If all you are doing is trying to figure out whether to order more heating oil, not a problem. If you are trying to tease out incredibly small changes over long periods of time, it is.
Could adjustments be made to make the two comparable? Perhaps but I am skeptical.
Finally, NOAA is responsible for temperature data in the US and is the source of temps used by CRU.
According to the NOAA, 61% of their 2000+ have a CRN rating 4 indicating an estimated error of 2 degrees or more. 8% are CRN-5 estimated error of 5 deg or more. 22% are CRN-3, estimated error of 1 degree or more.
Only 10% are CRN 1 or 2 with an estimated error of less than 1 degree.
CRN is Climate Reference Network and comes from NOAA's Climate Reference Site Handbook.
For what it is worth, I think the whole idea of global warming, in the sense that we have had a 0.6 degree rise in the past 100 or so years, is a fraud. I hope some people go to jail. I don't expect that any will.
Feel free to us all of this including my name and website or edit as you see fit.
John R Henry CPP
"All progress is made by a lazy person looking for an easier way." - Lazarus Long
You'll have to ask Leo about my TWiT appearances; I'm ready, but he has to ask. And he gets busy.
I don't really question that temperatures have risen since 1895; but I do question whether they rose as much as Arrhenius predicted they would from CO2. I don't see that "extra" rise in temperature over and above the "natural" rise since the end of the Little Ice Age.
And I fear ice far more than warm. Longer growing seasons mean more food. Shorter mean something else. And it seems reasonable to me that warmer temperatures mean more rain since it takes energy to evaporate water and carry it about the atmosphere.
Some Weather Data
Just in case you haven't been told to go to this site. It has some of the raw data, or so the claim is.
I like your site, as it is. If I want absolute organization, I go to the library. The site is a peek into your brain so to speak, or genius if you want.
I haven't been able to extract much from the referenced site, but that's probably my fault. I expect someone will investigate it for us. Thanks.
From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan to stateside family & friends:
From the Sand Pit: It's freezing here. I'm sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains , along the Dar 'yoi Pomir River , watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.
I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but those scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.
The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water.. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement..
It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. Well cut their supply lines and the eradication will begin.
I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with m y boot on his throat as I spit into his face and plunge my nickel-plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me, I'm a romantic. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.
Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that's your idea of a party.
I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of 'em, are Huns... Actual, living Huns.. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do.. They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Hun, cavemen with AK-47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.
I'm freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart..' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning.' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines..They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else.. Smart.. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart.
They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.
Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here, because you have no idea what we're doing, and really, you don't want to know. We are your military, and we are doing what you sent us here to do.
Semper fi; Saucy Jack - Recon Marine in Afghanistan
"Freedom is not free...but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
Not quite Huns, but certainly related to them. And to Tatars.
Apparently the origin of the letter is not from a Marine in service. See below
I saw the note in mail last week and just about howled. My son was sent to: http://www.dhmo.org/ as an exercise in critical thinking when he was in the fifth grade. Of course, he didn't know it was critical thinking until he really started to dig into it, which was the point of the exercise.
I'm sure that you've seen the link before, but just in case... ;-)
Cheers, and Merry Christmas! Steve
A good class assignment...
December 15, 2009
"Saucey Jack" letter long since debunked
Sorry, but that letter was debunked a long time ago. I'm not a fan of snopes, but I was pretty sure it was faked even before I looked it up there (this was in 2001, not just now. I looked it up again just to reminisce and it's still there).
Many things give it away. First of all, I've known a lot of Recon Marines, but never one who wrote like that (they would consider that a compliment). No recon Marine would give away their activities like that, voluntarily or even trying to be misleading. Lastly, and once again I hate to admit that snopes has it right, but yes, Scorpion antivenin is injected, not drunk. They got the location mistake right too.
Mostly though, the letter just doesn't ring true. It sounds produced, like some screenwriters imagined version of what such a character must be like. Don't feel bad though. A lot of people have fallen for it.
I have several letters on this, all referring me to Snopes.
I didn't conclude the letter because I thought it was accurate, but because it was amusing; and two paragraphs:
struck my fancy. It's not that they are strictly true, but (1) they're true enough, and (2) I can easily understand why a Marine deployed in the Hindu Kush (translation: death to Hindus) would say such things. (It was also clear to me that he was being deceptive about just where he was, but I would have thought that obvious too; sorry. The absence of Pushtans is a telling point.) There are Mongols and Tatars (not Huns, but the confusion is understandable) in the Afghan mountains, and for many of the mountain dwellers the choices really are restricted to the opium trade, the army, or pillage - and for non-Pushtans, the army isn't really an option.
Snopes concludes that if this really were a letter from a serving Marine, "he was deliberately trying to be misleading or funny." I must say I thought that was obvious from the beginning, and that none of my readers would have to be warned that Soldiers and Marines in deployment will make up a great deal of the local color they write home about -- and that in this case that had to be obvious.
So if you were mislead by this, my apologies, but I doubt anyone was.
My observation of the Florida Coast is simply inferred from the Gulf Stream. I understand that the sea temperatures tend to be constant over longer distances -- but the existence of El Nino and other such conditions show that they can vary widely, and so far we do not seem to have sound models of why.
My ship, of course crossed the entire Gulf Stream and we saw little change in temp. Being Autumn maybe this is to be expected. Since I did not see raw reports from other ships that would have been there during winter, it is possible they saw more variation than we did. We were surprised that we saw so little variation. We were not able to find the Gulf Stream simply by taking water temps.
Granted, my experience was in the North Atlantic, which obviously is far smaller than the Pacific. I would expect to see some effects in the far larger Pacific we don't see in the much narrower Atlantic. That we do not have adequate models is not a surprise as we do not have enough knowledge about the inputs to be able to determine the outputs. I have a gut feeling that Chaos Theory will have to advance far beyond where it stands now to even have the tools to model something as simple as El Nino. All we have at the present is a gross qualitative knowledge of what happens.
Richard L. Hardison, PLS, PE, CFedS
I have to say I have no personal experience with the Gulf Stream, and took my views of it from fiction including John D. MacDonald. It's pretty clear I should have used a different example. My point was mostly that accuracies to any fraction of a degree are impossible. I should have used a different thought experiment. Thanks for the correction.
Without models that give some account to El Nino we cannot have any understanding of rainfall patterns, and it is my understanding that rain/snow/drought is far more important in the growth and shrinkage of glaciers than raw temperature.
Climate Data Query
I just caught up with yesterday's climate data query. On the subject of the quality of the surface temperature data, I would suggest http://www.surfacestations.org which is an ongoing survey of the quality (or lack thereof) of the stations feeding the data into the system in this country.
I agree with you completely that we should be spending our money to find out if we have a problem before trying political fixes. I have, in the light of the leaked CRU e-mails, that there has been significant scientific misconduct. Whether it is possible to reanalyze the remaining data is very much an open question. I'm left with a strong suspicion that the temptation to make only adjustments that fit the preconceived result has been too strong.
By the way, I just renewed. Anything to increase your output. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2010.
Those Northern Vineyards
Those Greenland and northern Scotland vineyards could be useful data points for figuring out how high temperatures were circa 1000 AD.
You take a couple decades of temperatures from the Toledo region of Ohio (Some of their stuff is potable.) or the Finger Lakes region of New York and compare it with similar data sets from Greenland and Scotland.
One need not be the Rev. Bayes to get a good approximation. Any honest statistician will do.
I suspect one of the roots of the climate modeling issue is a gross misuse of statistics.
Example: Given a set of hourly temperature readings at a site for a year, with each reading accurate to one degree Celsius, the temptation is to construct an average annual temperature by adding the numbers, and then computing some statistical measure related to the dispersion of the individual numbers. Clearly they are not performing the most egregious such error, which would given a apparent error on the order of 1 degree celsius divided by the square root of the number of observations (about 0.01 degrees C).
However, this data is properly a trend curve covering the year, and the errors of the curve will never be significantly less than the error in the data -- and the extrapolated error of the trend curve will be significantly worse over time scales on the order of the time scale of the collection of the best data of the curve. (Nominally the error would be a hypergolic function of the mean trend, and the absence of apparent hypergolic deviation in the climate projections remains one reason I've been suspicious of the analysis for years.)
I need to write more on this, maybe later.
(Appropos of nothing, I'm in the first throes of setting up a new Sony Vaio with Win7 and hopefully enough memory to let me to do some meaningful analysis. I'm also setting up to help a couple of other people with some more or less relevant books...)
I recommend the latest Intel Quads, Windows 7 64-bit, and a 8 gigabytes. That will do some serious number crunching. There was a time when I might do the analysis myself, but it has been a long time since I was really familiar with Savage. Ah well.
More from a climate change skeptic -
I don't know if this has already been sent or discussed, I have been extraordinarily busy lately and haven't followed anything closely, but at least this was sent by Reuter's. (Picked up in general news in America? I doubt it.)
All this has been talked about in your website. Just a tiny bit more.
We keep trying...
Hiding the decline - the Conspiracy (again)
Dr. P, In my previous message, Outlook ‘helpfully’ corrected my statement about ‘tree-rings’ to ‘trees, rings’. Steve
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Phil Jones
I have previously provided the link that shows how the “trick” was applied to Keith Briffa’s data.
The data, which was published in the Fourth IPCC Assessment, was plotted for over a thousand years, most of which consists of proxy data, that is, data which is inferred from tree-rings, ice cores, and the like. Then at the end, in the last couple of decades, the plot of one of the proxy data sets simply stops. It is not obvious because many plots are crisscrossing in that region, and it is near the end of the graph.
The reason why the plot stops is that the temperatures are declining, and the authors did not want to show that. Once understood, this is obviously a deception by omission. Dr. Jones’ email clearly shows he understands the deception, and is telling colleagues that he is employing it himself.
This deceit does not disprove the theory of AGW. It does, however, prove that some of the leading scientists who advocate the AGW theory have conspired to present their data dishonestly.
Which is why I believe we need to fund the "deniers" and skeptics; let's get some science into this debate. I despair of finding real scientists so perhaps what's needed is a debate using scientific evidence.
One thing to look for in the CRU (and other) data is "patterns". I haven't seen a lot of the "raw" vs "adjusted" graphics that also show the "adjustment" on the same graph, but those I have seen have this in common....the magnitude of the "adjustment" INCREASES from deep past to present day. The seems just a tad counter-intuitive. One would think that as we got closer to the present day, with better instrumentation and many more measurements, that the magnitude of the adjustments would decrease, NOT increase. And I have yet to see even one such graphic that shows a negative adjustment, despite the well-known "urban heat island" effect.
Another "pattern" is with the graphics of global daily temperatures emanating from NOAA. They show "cooler than normal" in North America, Europe, and eastern Australia, and "hotter than normal" everywhere else. I say "how fortunate" that the cooling is only happening in those political venues where data might be made public, and nowhere else. The current "meme" being sold is "yes, it's cold in a few places but overall it's the "hottest year on record"". I seem to recall similar statements about the "Medieval Warm Period" (i.e. that it was fortuitously limited to western Europe and wasn't a world-wide phenomenon).
The only legitimate "fix" for the current problem is "open source" science. Post ALL the data, ALL the computer programs, and ALL the on websites open to anyone who cares to examine them. It doesn't matter if the checking science is paid for by Exxon, Saudi Arabia, Greenpeace, or a retired hobbyist"s pension. In science it IS possible to ascertain what the truth is, unless the process has been buggered beyond recognition by politics.
Seems to me that Climategate has revealed the emperor has no clothes. ALL conclusions of the meteorology/climatology/weather science research, for or against, are now suspect. And the entire concept has little to do with actual climate change, and everything to do with money and governmental powers.
The only way to rehabilitate this entire scientific branch would be to provide the public the raw data, all of it, and list all changes in sampling methodology, environmental changes at the sampling sites, and the proposed adjustment methodology for each site’s data. Further, any adjustment methodology must be accompanied by rational for it; as well as evidence–based testing to justify said rational and methodology.
Michael D. Houst
To which we can all agree.
Dear Dr. Pournelle, You wrote today that we should get the US Army to build power plants. It seemed a one-off line in an otherwise logical plan but surely the Navy would be better suited. I admit I don't know who builds Navy reactors but those guys certainly have a lot of experience operating and maintaining them. It seems to me that if AGW was the existential threat that those in power tell us it is, we'd "declare war" on it and enlist the Navy to set up reactors every 20 miles. You could get around the red-tape by declaring it a military action in defense of the homeland. TSA doesn't need a court order to search my bag or keep me off a plane, so why should the Navy need things signed in triplicate to protect against what we are told is a far greater threat?
Anyway, your web site reads fine. Things get linked to often enough and if one checks by fairly regularly one keeps up. Not that I also do, but that's on me, not you. It seems you could easily spend all your time organizing the site rather than keeping it filled with interesting mail and observations. Personally, I'd rather have the latter. Cheers, Paul
-- Paul Jones Department of Chemistry Wake Forest University
Your was not the only letter calling me to task for this. Were it my decision I'd do both: tell the Navy to build in coastal areas where there's lots of water for cooling, and give the interior to the Army; let's see what they can accomplish. Build power plants. The answer to pollution is energy. The answer to economic problems is energy. Given freedom and energy we can do damned near anything, and for the costs of the wars we could have energy.
I got a lot of mail on this; most said 'do nothing'. I won't post much of it.
Comments about your website are almost as predictable as a pulsar (a period of about 4 months). Once again, let me reinforce your lack of desire to move to a blog. Your editing/filtering and commenting on mail is what makes it worth my time to subscribe and read. There's thousands of sites with dribble posted by trolls and idiots - I value yours because of the quality of the content, not the elegance of the presentation.
Are there minor layout changes that would make it more readable? Sure - a more even background would make it a bit more readable. I like the two colors for fonts to separate your words from your correspondent's. The front page has some very small fonts (particularly for Escape From Hell) that could be larger. A better index (though google does just fine for me).
If you want to try new software, give iWeb a go - the blog postings in do much of the automatic formatting for you, although you'd have to create an 'archive' link to the old pages. However, that would (like all blogging software) change to a most-recent at the top style, which I despise. So you could still use iWeb, but just create pages with normal, top-down text on them to clean up the layout. It probably wouldn't take long to switch, would help you use your Mac more, and would improve the formatting.
Just don't change the content or editorial policy! We like our benevolent dictator.
Thanks. When -- if, because Windows 7 removes many of the incentives -- I change over to a Mac for doing mail and this site, I will look into suggestions for new software but for now, I intend to be a bit more meticulous about headers -- slugs, as Alex calls them -- and being certain that what I write is easily distinguished from letters I get.
I would love to combine Mail and View, but I don't see how to do it. Mail does prompt some comments from me that ought to be in View, and once in a while I get mail about something I wanted to write about to begin with or I think I should have wanted to write about, and I put those in View. I'll probably continue to do that.
I'll try to do more linkages.
Colors I don't intend to change. I like my parchment. I am experimenting with adding some navigation tools to mail.
And I don't intend to change my editorial policies at all.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
December 16, 2009
Soot warming 'maybe bigger than greenhouse gases'
Dan Bricklin's Note Taker for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.
--- Roland Dobbins
Laurie Jo's implant
How the hell are the Gore environmentalists going to
account for this?
It’s going to have an effect on the climate, no doubt. The problem is that the climate alarmists aren’t going to know whether to skew plus or minus until well after the fact. I predict they’ll simply ignore the millions of tons of particulates and gasses it will release. If temps go up, they’ll then say their models are consistent, and humans are still causing global warming. If temps go down, they’ll invent some way for the volcano to be responsible for the cooling. They’re masters at this sort of spin, so we need an offensive on “our” part to show that these natural events have an unpredictable impact, if for no reason other than to prevent the global warming crowd from using it as another weapon against science, reason, and our pocketbooks.
They are just lying, knowingly lying. There are piles of Freedom of information act requests seeking this data, and facing stone walls, and much of the climategate files, in particular the Harry files, discuss the non availability of this data.
The climategate files reveal that no one knows how the politically correct world surface temperatures were calculated, for Harry was trying to reproduce this, and failed, because the world temperature is calculated from observed temperatures by adding large, entirely unexplained, "corrections", which secret corrections caused Harry much indigestion.
What appears to be the raw unmanipulated data, the data that Phil Jones claimed was destroyed, *is* available in the climate gate files. Stratasphere <http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/11857> checks this data against data from weather stations provided by chefio, and it looks like the real thing.
This data, the uncooked, non value added, Hadley-CRU data, indicates that world temperatures peaked in the late 1930s, early 1940s, cooled off in the seventies, warmed back to the 1930 levels, and present temperatures are about what they were in the 1940s.
Hence Harry's problem. He had to produce a graph of doom from data that conspicuously failed to indicate doom. He was less than totally enthused by this task, hence the suspicion that Harry leaked the files, though Stratasphere thinks that Briffa leaked the files because Hadley-CRU was about to throw him to the wolves.
Of course, the raw data fails to allow for the urban hotspot effect, so it is likely that if select rural stations, present world temperatures are substantially cooler than the 1930s, 1940s.
Dr. Pournelle --
An article I saw some time go relates to the discussion of measuring ocean temperatues:
“Temperature drop due to measurement error”
The article refers to the Nature article below:
“A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature”
Briefly: Ocean temperatures show a general rise from 19th century to today with periodic sudden drops of a fractional degree centigrade. [The temperatures Thompson uses come from Hadley-CRU databases derived from raw data. Thompson is not using the raw data but relying on those who homogenized the data for Hadley and CRU.] Thompson states that most of these drops are associated with tropical volcano eruptions. The drop of 0.3 degree C occurring during the 3 month period after August 1945 doesn’t fall into this category. Thompson explains this drop by the resurgence of British shipping post WWII as follows:
1. Prior to WWII: Ocean temperatures measured by ships of many countries using various methods. The errors of these methods tend to cancel each other out. [This seems a major assumption].
2. During WWII, 80% of measurements are taken by US ships which, from about 1939, increasingly use the condenser intake as the point of measurement. Measuring at this point will tend to skew temperatures slightly upward.
3. After WWII, British shipping accounted for 50% of temperature measurements, US shipping only 30%. British ships would throw a canvas bucket over the side, haul up the water and stick a thermometer into the bucket.
4. Thompson relies on a paper by Folland and Parker of the Hadley Center of the British Met Office ( http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/114056209/abstract ) which derived corrections to the bucket method temperatures using models of heat and moisture transfer from canvas and wooded buckets, one of the canvas models tested using shipboard measurements. The resulting corrections, “from 0.11 degrees C in 1856 to 0.42 degrees C by 1940” are “fairly insensitive to uncertainties such as the size of the bucket or the details of its exposure on deck.”
5. Thompson determines that the drop in ocean temperature post WWII is an artifact of the data collection method used on British ships and the resulting temperatures should be adjusted upwards.
Many questions come to my mind about the reliability of this data. The reliability of the Hadley-CRU databases is a topic of current debate, among some at least. Rather than interpret the drop in temperatures post August 1945 as an artifact to be corrected I would tend to view the rise from 1939 to 1945 as the artifact. Fig. 4 of Thompson’s paper seems to show the rise in ocean temperature tracking nicely with the rise in the proportion of US ship measurements. However, Thompson believes that there should be consistent warming and so it is natural that he would view the drop as an artifact. I was taught early on that such unintentional observer bias was among the traps to avoid, hence the need for open discussion. Could some of the rise in ocean temperatures seen after 1945 be due to a shift from the bucket method to the condenser intake method? I have to wonder how much reliance on any of these methods is reasonable since they all will vary as to the depth of measurement and the amount of mixing of surface and subsurface water. One of your readers commented yesterday that the diligence of the personnel in getting precise readings could vary. I can imagine that collecting ocean temperature data could be yet another routine demand upon the time of a seaman, just another thing to get done in an already too busy schedule.
It seems that the potential error bars for the data are much, much wider than any trend being reported.
P.S.: Regarding accuracy of the weather stations in the US used for temperature data, among my favorites is the official USHCN weather station in the parking lot for the Atmospheric Science Dept., University of Arizona, Tucson, a picture of which an be found at the site below:
Measuring ocean temperatures
our efficient government
Hello Dr. Pournelle:
From the people who want to offer us all universal health care, and promise to deliver it at low cost, thanks to the great efficiency that government is know for, we get:
What makes this interesting, is that there will be a press conference and this will no doubt be hailed as the harbinger of all the efficiency that will come with the new system. This despite the fact that the 61 million dollar scam uncovered is only a THOUSANDTH of the total of 60 billion dollars in estimated Medicare fraud. This assumes that the numbers given are accurate, and have not been low balled. Certainly the scammers, remnants of organized crime, cheats, thieves, and assorted con men are licking their chops, and crossing their fingers that the health care bill passes. Doubtless, many others inside and out of government are looking forward to the huge windfall that can be harvested within the law - all to be paid for by the rest of us. The good news is:
Though it was certainly not his intent, Joe Biden actually cast an optimistic light on the health care debate. I only hope that, for once, he is correct.
Perhaps I am being unfair though, and it may be that what has happened in Medicare is an anomaly, and not really representative of how government handles things. So instead, lets look at the great job the government has been doing with the schools, since the formation of the department of education - well maybe that's another anomaly. Lets look at how wonderful the government housing projects are - well, ok, maybe that's not such a good example either. Still, look at the great strides that we have been making since the sixties towards wiping out poverty, after the Great Society program was started. Also look at the wonderful job the government has done with improving race relations, and ending prejudice. There is a kind of horrid fascination with government initiatives to address social problems, that makes it hard to look away. Yet many people seem unable to recognize the clear and obvious pattern here.
Government can create bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are good at some tasks, not good at others. The Iron Law always applies. One would think this obvious, but then the schools are bureaucracies -- where are the pupils expected to learn?
This is a very interesting article - maybe we should "follow the money".
John F. Gothard, Ph.D.
Black Carbon Travels the Globe,
It seems that black carbon spreads itself around:
It seems to act locally wherever it goes, which would explain why the warming that has been seen is uneven.
Interesting. It makes the solutions proposed in the 1970's for countering the next ice age seem like they're working.
"You know when the plane has been hit; it makes this kind of a sound. But there's too much to do piloting these things to have time to worry about the consequences."
--- Roland Dobbins
Subject: What Kind of Math is This ?
"The new software is the result of two years of
collaboration by a team at Microsoft Research, led by Larry Zitnick <http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/larryz/>
, and a group at Dartmouth College <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/
December 17, 2009
I have heard no national pundit, radio show, or columnist comment upon the irony of our current congress overriding the MANDATORY 21% cut in Medicare payments to physicians in the budget bill; all the while promising to reduce the budget through the health care reform bill by reducing Medicare payments over a 10 year period. I defy ONE congresscritter, or any pundit, to point to a decrease in Medicare payments that has taken effect from legislation enacted into law.
Climategate goes SERIAL: now the Russians confirm that UK climate scientists manipulated data to exaggerate global warming
"Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations."
Russian IEA Broadens Climategate
The Russian Institute of Economic Analysis is accusing the Hadley Center for Climate Change of excluding the 75% of Russian data sites that contradicts global warming, while focusing on urban hot spot locations:
The money quote from Rionovosta:
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.
The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
Good health to you.
I think we will find more instances of this as time goes on. After all, it's important that people "get it", and most people aren't smart enough, and this is after all the Earth our Mother, and it's IMPORTANT, and
- - - - -
For a bit of context in the question of global temperatures, I find the series of graphs in the article below to be incredibly important. Scroll down to the series of static graphs - they are much a much better presentation than the animations and video.
Everyone interested in the topic of climate trends should see these graphs.
- - - - -
As an engineer, I have a nose for numbers: when they are correct and when they are fudged. I have been following AGW as an interested layman for years, and to my engineer's nose the numbers stink. I have said this for years (upsetting friends and family), and I still say it today, as the media valiantly resists what Climategate makes obvious: the data have been manipulated to meet preconcieved ideas.
Yes, Darwin is "cherry-picking" - one station taken out of thousands. It is an egregious example: good-quality data that have somehow merited massive corrections. Defenders of the corrections point out that a sensor was replaced in 1941. However, even if you examine only the post 1941 data, the measurements only present a warming trend after they have been "corrected".
When pressed for an explanation, the standard answer seems to be: it's all in the literature. Specific references and explanations remain absent. Equally irritating is the line "but you are not a climate scientist, so you wouldn't understand". This is disingenuous, since many of the people working on both sides of the issue are not climate scientists by training. In fact, statistics and computer models are nothing mysterious; the math required is college-level, and many practicing engineers will understand these tools better than the scientists.
Lastly, freedom of information: Climategate shows the researchers fighting FOI requests. This misses the point: no FOI requests should ever have been necessary. The data and the source code for the models should have been online from day one, and the methodology clearly explained in the papers. This should be enforced by any reputable journal. If you will not enable others to verify your work, you cannot claim to be doing science.
Darwin serves as a marker: an example of where the researchers have failed to meet their scientific obligations. The Darwin results cannot be verified because it is unclear what data was used, how it was processed and what methodology was followed. Darwin stands for the lack of transparency that contaminates essentially all AGW research currently available.
- - - - -
All the best
My observation on climate scientists is that few have very much education in actual statistical analysis. Some do of course. One problem is that climate modeling is extremely difficult.
On funding contrarian views in science:
From another conference:
That elicited this reply from science fiction author Commander Hemry:
I'm sympathetic to this argument, because I have three kids on the autistic spectrum. Science spent decades declaring autism to be a purely psychological ailment, despite a total lack of supporting evidence beyond circular logic. Dissenters were labeled quacks.
Once the psychological ailment edifice crumbled (not as a result of actual research but because of the discrediting of Bruno Bettelheim), science spent decades declaring that autism was the result of prenatal brain damage and was both untreatable and incurable, again despite any actual evidence to support the assertions. In fact, medical science worked diligently to quash any contary arguments or any studies, using the rationale that since the cause and untreatability of autism were already accepted there was no need to research the cause or any treatments. Anyone working on identifying causes or treatments was once again labeled a quack. Even as the evidence accumulated that children were developing typically for one, two or three years after birth before descending into autism (not exactly consistent with prenatal brain damage) and increasingly sophisticated brain scans failed to find the supposed brain damage, the medical establishment stuck to its guns.
What finally collapsed the official stonewall within the last couple of years was the dramatically increasing numbers of children being diagnosed autistic. Despite strong scientific establishment attempts to deny the validity of the numbers, studies by states (who had to help pay for taking care of these kids) proved the large increases were neither the result of statistical error or changing diagnostic criteria. Facing a tidal wave of afflicted kids, the political establishment forced the medical establishment to finally get serious about the problem. Now we finally have real studies underway, and perhaps will finally find some answers.
I believe the best response to allegations of scientific fraud is to prove the failure. Too often, that hasn't been done, and accepted wisdom has been defined as proof.
The 6 Million Dollar Man Today
Student Brings Typewriter to Lecture, Has to Leave,
So: your laptop dies, and you have forgotten how to write so you can't take notes. What to do?
You bring a typewriter to class, of course. Even better, one of your classmates catches it all on video:
Heh. No mute button?
One more datum on seawater temp
As a former USCG Chief Quartermaster, I second what other correspondents have said regarding the reliability of reported seawater temperatures. I would add one thing, however.
Seawater temperature is, generally, compiled by the Engineering department. (Air temp, dew point, wind speed/direction, cloud cover/type, wave/swell data and barometric pressure are compiled by the Navigation department) In general, these temps are take at a seawater inlet, whether that be for the condenser or for the heat exchanger on diesel ships. The depth of that inlet will vary considerably, depending on the ship in question. For an aircraft carrier or large tanker, it may be 30-40 feet below sea level. For the Coast Guard vessels I was on, it was more like 6-12 feet below sea level. My first ship, a 210 ft cutter in the Gulf of Mexico, routinely reported seawater temperatures of 95-97 degrees in summer, because it was shallow draft and we were essentially measuring the sun-heated surface. A deeper draft vessel in the same place at the same time would undoubtedly have reported a much lower temperature. (I won't even get into thermoclines, etc. Ask a submariner or a Sonarman to fill you in on those.) I have no idea how you could reliably apply a correction to account for this variation.
I noted earlier that the Navigation department reported on a variety of weather data. A synoptic report is sent in every four hours. The accuracy and reliabiility of that data is, at best, questionable. It was not infrequent for me to find myself dressing down a junior because the wick on the wet bulb thermometer had gone dry. The thermometers themselves had only whatever calibration was done at the factory--they then stayed in service until someone broke one. The barometers and barographs WERE recalibrated on a regular basis, but the National Weather Service seemed to pick and choose which data they paid attention to, at times (In February of 1984 my ship was on patrol in the Bering when we encountered one hell of a blow. The barometer and the barograph both agreed that we hit a 25.98 mb low. In February. In sub-arctic waters. The National Weather Service actually sent a message tellling us this was impossible. We invited them to come join us, but they declined the invitation.)
The point is, in many parts of the world the ONLY reporting is the synoptic reports from shipping, particularly military vessels. The data is largely being taken by people at the E-4 level who view it as one more chore. Yes, they mostly try to get it right, but the temperatures aren't recorded with better than 1-2 degrees of accuracy, and the cloud cover and wave/swell data are best guesses.
I think we have established that the primary data are not accurate to closer than a degree. I now remind all that the NOAA data show that in 1880 the Earth temperature was at -0.2 degrees C relative to a standard that appears to be the 1940 temperature; and 0.5 degrees C in 2008, for a total of 0.7 C or under 2 degrees F rise in 100 years. Just what is all the fuss about?
CRU train wreck; Other train wrecks
The CRU locomotive has seized its engine and gone off the track. Like all train wrecks, it has so much inertia behind it that it takes time to dissipate all that momentum. But nobody else is getting on the train. Soon the vultures will descend to pick over the dead, and the courts will sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Two things are apparent to me: 1) Phil Jones's career in science has ended; 2) Because CRU "lost" its data, Goddard must publish its data.
Phil Jones has taken an indefinite leave pending the outcome of an invetigation. The CRU will try to keep the investigation internal (so that they can unearth great masses of 'no evidence of wrongdoing'), but in time the CRU will be investigated by someone more or less independent. The report of that investigation will find fault at the CRU. After the report is released, the University of East Anglia will 'with regret' terminate its relations with Phil Jones -- and likely with many others. Phil Jones will find himself shunned by other climate modelers. His days of counting himself a scientist are over.
Because the CRU 'lost' its raw data, the question will be asked, "Where did you get your raw data?" For many of them, the answer is Goddard. Goddard has already received requests for their data; they have not given it. There will be more pressure on Goddard now. That means more pressure on James Hansen. We will see another train wreck at Goddard. (I used to work with guys from Goddard. A train wreck couldn't happen to a more deserving group.) +++++ "According to the President, homes and offices consume ~ 40% of the US energy budget . . . ." http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2009/Q4/view601.html#Wednesday
Well, maybe, but I kinda doubt it. Some years ago, I worked in Silicon Valley. Had occasion to interview with a company that made a product to remotely meter electricity usage on a line-by-line basis. Think of metering each socket in your house separately. Their major customer was Lockheed. According to the company VP, Lockheed consumed 70% of all the electricity used in Santa Clara County. Lockheed execs met annually with PG&E reps to set the rate they paid for electricity.
After Lockheed came companies like Intel, Apple, Sun, AMD, Cisco, and others. Home and office use was a small, small fraction of the total.
"I'd be happier if he took $700 billion of that TARP
money, and gave half to the US Corps of Engineers and the other half to the
US Navy, and ordered them to build nuclear power plants."
Okay by me if the CoE builds nuclear power plants, but I want the Navy to write the specs and inspect the CoE's work. +++++ A parting shot: Military air power is being augmented and supplemented by RPVs. Why has no one applied this technology to airliners to obviate the opportunity to use them as kamikaze bombers?
Live long and prosper h lynn keith
December 18, 2009
Jerry, you’re completely misreading my LAT [LA Tiimes] oped coauthored with Dan Sarewitz.
In other words, it's really all right. Ignore ClimateGate and get on with the Copenhagen Treaty. Preserve our grants, continue to pay tribute to Al Gore, and yes, there's some doubt but it's OK to go on spending trillions in "prudent action against climate change."
We say none of those things, and believe none of them; if we meant anything like that, we would have said so. Find me any actual quote in our writing that even hints at those ideas—the quotations you select do not even suggest anything along those lines, so your “in other words” is quite a creative leap. When you have to put your words in my mouth to find something to critique, perhaps you should think twice about what you’re saying.
The point of our oped was not to excuse the conduct of the CRU scientists—we say so explicitly, actually, so it’s hard to see how you could have missed that— it was to make a larger point about how science is improperly elevated to a position of exalted authority over policy questions that is rarely questioned, yet fundamentally misplaced. We argue that the unavoidably political nature of some science should be clearly recognized and honestly debated, not papered over. The piece is deeper critique of Gore’s brand of politicized science, not an excuse for it.
I am pleased to be wrong, since I'm familiar with your work and generally agree. Clearly you are much more of an expert on what you say and mean than I am.
I remain concerned about
I have no idea what "prudent action against climate change" would be, other than redoubling our efforts to find out what is happening: and to do that will require some oversight and reform in science. When consensus is a conspiracy to restructure the peer review process, we're all in trouble. My prudent action against climate control would be to fund some challenges to the consensus; study cost/benefits of warming and preventing warming; look into engineering methods for controlling CO2 levels, but while we are at it, study just what the optimum CO2 level might be. Before we spend trillions on prudent actions I think it would be well to know what actions are in fact prudent.
As to the second paragraph, I fear I can't agree. Counting noses is not science, building consensus is not science, and the debates I am listening to today do not inspire much confidence. Arky Kantrowitz spent most of his life trying to get some enthusiasm for an actual science court that would render actual decisions based on science, complete with confidence levels. He never got very far. Perhaps that debate needs to be opened again. I agree that it's a matter of concern that public confidence in science is shattered by the email revelations; I agree that it's hardly astonishing that when one's livelihood and life's work is at stake the temptations to play with the data become strong; I don't at all agree that scientific conclusions need to be subject to democratic politics.
Of course policies are to be decided by politics. The problem here is that the public has been persuaded that "science" supports the climate change people, that those who disagree are "deniers" who ought to be hounded out of public life: now, the Emperor is shown to be naked, and the public is a bit dubious about the "science" behind the whole Kyoto / Copenhagen movement. I don't see how that's bad. The name of "science" was hijacked; I can't see that it's a bad thing for the thinking public to understand that. If we are given actual policy alternatives with some notion of the probable outcome of each -- and with some understanding of confidence -- then we have a political decision. That isn't what's going on. We're being told that "the science is over", there is no rational questioning of what we ought to be doing, there's no choice. I expect we agree that this isn't science; and as for me, I rejoice that the people are becoming aware that it's not science. I'd rather have public disillusionment with the authority of Big Science than see the nation bankrupt on what is said to be prudent but may not be. Prudence demands doubt, not denouncing of unbelievers.
We appear to be in agreement in much of substance, and perhaps I am just too thick headed to understand what you intended to say. Thanks for the clarification. We certainly share the same views on Al Gore's pretense at science.
'Not since Neville Chamberlain tugged a Claridge’s luncheon bill from his pocket and flourished it on the steps of the aircraft that brought him back from Munich has a worthless scrap of paper been so audaciously hyped.'
- Roland Dobbins
One can almost feel sorry for Obama...
“Temperatures will stay low at least the next three days. There’s a good chance of a white Christmas.”
-- Roland Dobbins
It's very warm in Los Angeles today. Beautiful weather, no smog, a few fleecy clouds.
View 601: $700 billion of TARP money
Let me get this straight: the US Corps of Engineers, the same guys that build and maintain the berms, dikes, levees and channels in New Orleans, should build nuclear power plants. What could possibly go wrong?
All the best to you and yours, and a very Merry Christmas
Adult supervision may be needed. Maybe from the Navy. I'd settle for TVA. We know how to build safe nuclear power plants. They'd do far more for us than the "shovel ready" projects...
Army Corp of Engineers
In response to Roberts recent comments about the Army Corp of Engineers and the failures of the Levees in New Orleans. The problem in New Orleans was not the Corp, but the corrupt Louisiana politicians who kept diverting the money for their pet projects. Corruption and graft were a way of life and money that was for improved levees was used instead for more important projects. More important that is until it started to rain after a hurricane had passed by. I lived there for several years in 1980's and was relived to get out.
I know. Adult supervision is still required, of course.
"As for the Europeans, it's better to freeze all of them to death!"
Via 'global warming', of course:
---- Roland Dobbins
Jerry - For all the talk of models, the data and models themselves have been available for a while. RealClimate has posted links to many of them: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
Anyone who wants to can download and play with the data and the models, determine for themselves the relevance of the data.
Of course, regardless of whether AGW is happening or not, look at the solutions: improved efficiency, more solar, wind, and nuclear, etc. Almost all of them are the same as the solutions to solving another problem - getting the US off the oil standard. Personally, I'd advocate a $10/barrel tax on imported oil, rising by $1 / year. Also a new gas tax of a minimum of $1/gallon, rising by $0.25/year. No need to mandate efficiency or fuel standards - as the price goes up people will change their behavior. And, if someone wants to drive a gas-guzzling SUV the 2 blocks to the grocery store, they still can. They just have to pay for it. Simple free-market incentives.
We can use the money to fund research, pay down the debt, and for the US Gov to pay for nuclear (Gen 4) for their own energy (thus jumpstarting moving to clean nuclear power).
Also look at the potential for new jobs as we shift the economy. Yes, some jobs in the old economy will disappear, but new ones appear. It's like the shift from the horse and buggy to the automobile. Many jobs (blacksmith, stable hand, etc) disappeared, yet new ones (mechanic, gas station owner, etc) were created. More were created that had never been considered before, as the automobile and truck created new industries.
Subject: Paris Court Convicts Google in Copyright Infringement Case - 12/18/2009 7:45:00 AM - Publishers Weekly
This is an important decision which will have an impact here. Copyright is a global law, controlled by treaty. Google has to learn that they simply cannot take any intellectual property they want. They have to ask and get permission first,
December 19. 2009
I took the day off.
|This week:||Sunday, December
Yucca Mountain Waste Disposal
They're really overcomplicating it. If it's buried deep and unmarked, primitive cultures can't reach it. Advanced cultures should know better.
Any kind of marker just draws attention and encourages digging.
And this article points out why it's a nonissue:
Also, haven't the French and Japanese been disposing of nuclear waste as long as we have? What do they do?
It seems they do this:
At that point the fuel has to be replaced in the reactor with fresh fuel, even though there is still a substantial quantity of uranium-235 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-235> and plutonium <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium> present. In the United States, this used fuel is stored, while in countries such as the Russia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia> ,United Kingdom <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom> , France <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France> , Japan <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan> and India <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India> the fuel is reprocessed to remove the fission products, and the fuel can then be re-used. This reprocessing involves handling highly radioactive materials, and the fission products removed from the fuel are a concentrated form of high-level waste as are the chemicals used in the process. While these countries reprocess the fuel carrying out single plutonium cycles, India <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India> is known to be the only country in the world planning multiple plutonium recycling schemes. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste#cite_note-reprocess-14> . This has two distinct advantages, the reprocessed fuel is rendered unusable for weapons development, and high fuel efficiency can be achieved. For their plutonium generating reactors, India <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India> has realized a burn-up almost 4 times as high as the typical fuel efficiency of normal commercial nuclear reactors. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste#cite_note-reprocess-14>
And there you have it.
-- Recent novels from Michael Z. Williamson CONTACT WITH CHAOS, Apr 09 from Baen Books BETTER TO BEG FORGIVENESS, Mar 09 from Baen Books (mass market edition) THE WEAPON, Mar 07 from Baen Books (mass market edition)
The amount of nuclear waste is fairly small, and the simplest method of disposal is to stack it in glass bricks in Fort Irwin. There are more sophisticated methods. The Yucca Mountain thing is politics. At one point Gus Spaeth, then Clinton's Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and an official White House spokesman answer to me, at a press conference, that he was concerned that the wastes not be dispersed by glaciers in the event of a new ice age.After 600 years the only thing left is the actinides, and if my house is under a mile of ice I would worry more about that than nuclear wastes...
Subject: As Forest Deal Nears, New Index Maps Profit Potential in Trees
Subject: Corps of Engineers and New Orleans
In all fairness, the Corps of Engineers wanted to repair and upgrade the levees in New Orleans and submitted a plan to do so ten years before Katrina. But the levees are under the control of the levee boards, not the Corps; and the plan to upgrade them was delayed by a 10-year long lawsuit by the Sierra Club. The CoE people I worked with during some training classes were quite bitter about being made the fall guys for that.
New Nuclear Construction
Regarding the need to get the Navy involved in building more nuclear power plants, I would respectfully disagree. I don’t think you understand how the Navy builds powerplants. First of all, the Navy itself does not build the plants. They are designed by 2 national labs, near Pittsburgh and Schnectady, that used to be run by Westinghouse and GE, respectively, under the supervision of the Naval Reactors organization at DOE. The ships (and the powerplants) are built by Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat. The components come from a variety of suppliers around the country. Naval Reactors oversees all aspects of the design, construction, operation, and disposal of the power plants in these ships.
The existing civilian engineering companies are generally capable of building most of the new nuclear power plants that are being proposed, but there are some significant limitations with regard to (1) experienced manpower, (2) nuclear qualified suppliers for things like pressure vessels, process equipment, piping, valves, and electronics (including software), and (3) qualification of seemingly mundane issues like pouring nuclear-grade concrete. The Navy cannot do anything about any of these issues. It would NOT be a good idea to try to really push the construction of a large number of new plants because we are not prepared to build them properly, and if we don’t do this correctly, we will certainly have more cost overruns (if we are lucky), and maybe some “interesting events” (if we are unlucky).
The biggest issue that needs to be overcome is the legal obstacles raised by NIMBYs and enviros. It is possible for a local government to prevent a plant from being built if it will not issue a simple local building permit. And state permitting of water usage, thermal discharges, transmission corridors, and other non-nuclear aspects can also be used to delay plants. Environmental impact statements consider everything anyone could ever think about that could be affected by the plant, but there are invariably some critters or flowers that don’t get mentioned, and therefore they can be used to delay. We have erected a system of consultation in this country that tries to ensure that there is a wide consensus of agreement before something like this gets built, and opponents have learned how to manipulate it to increase costs so much that the proponents eventually give up. The windmill people are learning about this, as well.
What we really need is a long-term commitment with steady construction and improvement of new designs, so that we can develop long-term education and training programs and support a supplier network that produces quality components. I fear that this sort of thinking is not in the psyche of our leaders, though. I have built, operated, and maintained Navy nukes, and designed, constructed, ;licensed, and regulated commercial plants, so I have some experience with these matters.
New nukes: Building vs Inspecting
Subj: New nukes: Building vs Inspecting
It turns out that the Army Corps of Engineers builds no levees, berms, etc. and that the Navy builds no reactors.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair of the Naval Sea Systems Command are contracting and supervisory bureaucracies. The actual work is done by civilian contractors. (The Navy still has a few shipyards of its own, but they only do overhaul and repair, not new construction.)
The reason Naval reactors have such a well-deserved reputation for safety is that the late Admiral Hyman Rickover inculcated, right from the start, a ferocious culture of conservative design and meticulous inspection that has pretty much survived to this day. The Admiral was not a pleasant person to work with, let alone for. He became erratic towards the end; he probably should have retired several years before he was, finally, forced out. Some of his design decisions were questionable, and his team did not always catch all the shipbuilders' mistakes as early as they should have; see, for example, Patrick Tyler's _Running Critical_, the story of the botched 688 ("Los Angeles" class) submarine construction program. But his obsession with reactor safety has endured.
I speculate that there's a quite straightforward and inexpensive way to copy something like the Rickover safety culture: just as an officer serving in Naval Reactors knows that he might some day be serving in one of the ships he inspects, assign to each civilian power reactor, and to each levee, berm and dam, a resident inspector who lives, with his family, in government-furnished quarters right next to the structure (downwind, for reactors; downstream, for dams) he is responsible for inspecting.
When I said give the project to the military I meant make them responsible for it. As in building Minuteman. I should have been more careful. What I don't want is new entitled bureaucracies. Inspect not build works.
Subject: Building nuke plants
Back in the day I was part of the Navy's nuclear power program, and I agree with you that we would be well ahead of the game to scatter nuke plants around. You say Corps of Engineers and the Navy as builders, but the Navy plants in those days were built by Westinghouse, General Electric and Combustion Engineering.
So you need agencies who can handle supervision of mega-contractors building big, expensive things. Army COE and USN could fill that role for your vision, and the folks would be happy with the outcome I believe.
LCDR Jim Dodd, USN (Ret.) San Diego
Subj: Before we make a Science Court, should we not make a Science Grand Jury?
I am perhaps particularly aware of the notion of the Grand Jury right now, 'cause I'm currently serving on one. 8-)
And I beg forgiveness, if my harping on Herman Kahn's notion of "Second-Order Agreement" is becoming tiresome.
>>...2nd-order agreement is agreement about =what the argument is about=. "If A and B have achieved it, either should be able to explain it to C and each should be willing to accept the other’s explanation." ...<<
The job of a Grand Jury in the Criminal Law is to decide exactly with what (if anything) the defendant is to face trial. Only after the Grand Jury has framed a bill of charges -- the indictment -- can the defendant be brought to trial to face those charges. Once the indictment is handed up, the prosecution is restricted to trying the counts in the indictment. The defense, for its part, knows that it needs to defend only against those counts.
Similarly, it seems to me that reaching second-order agreement on what the scientific argument is about is a necessary prerequisite for bringing a scientific controversy to any sort of formal trial. Otherwise, we end up with the kind of never-ending arguments we're getting now, especially before Congressional Committees: "Well, maybe evidence X for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is questionable, but that doesn't matter, because there's Y, Z, ..." and then, when the questioning turns to Y, the AGW enthusiast goes "Well, maybe evidence Y for AGW is questionable, but that doesn't matter, because there's X, Z, ...", etc.
Something of the sort is needed, but first is needed an agreement that we need a way to dispatch scientific disputes that doesn't involve lawyers pounding on the table.
Controlling energy usage by controlling the price of energy
I note that every so often you get the suggestion that energy usage can be controlled by controlling the price. Just drive up the price, by force of law, and people will behave 'properly'. Today your correspondent Jeffrey was the latest to make this recommendation.
A data point. A year or so ago, we had a spike in the price of gasoline and it went up to $4 +/- a gallon. Tax remained around $0.50/gal, depending on the specific state and city. People started modifying their behavior, exactly as predicted. This all occurred to the sound of screams of outrage, primarily, but not exclusively, from the liberals (progressives) who, among their more benign suggestions, recommended the prosecution and imprisonment of oil company executives, price controls, congressional hearings, and nationalizing the entire energy industry. Other more progressive progressives recommended more violent actions be taken to stop the outrageous price gouging by the evil oil companies. Women, children, and minorities bore the brunt, of course. The point being that $4/gal gas was enormously destructive to everything and everybody.
Prior to this event, and on multiple occasions since, those same progressives have recommended that the MINIMUM price of gasoline be controlled at the $4/gal range and that the price be escalated regularly. Why? To force people to 'behave properly' and restrict their consumption of gasoline.
Now you may ask, why is $4/gal gasoline an unmitigated evil in one instance and a glorious boon to humanity in general and the country specifically in another instance? Hint: In one instance the government gets the filthy lucre and in the other the oil companies are the beneficiaries. I leave it to you to decide which is the 'good' $4/gal and which is the 'bad' $4/gal.
: Alternative energy sources
I don’t think there are many who visit your site that have any objections to alternative energy sources. The objection comes in response to our government trying to force economically costly solutions on an unwilling public. I find it curious that Jeffrey advocates increasing gas taxes as an example of “free-market incentives”. As for “the shift from horse and buggy to the automobile”, William Taft did not have a “cash for carriages” program.
The US has coal. It has natural gas. It has oil. It has the ability to build nuclear plants. We live in the most energy-rich nation on earth:
If free-market solutions were actually allowed in this country, we would have cheap, plentiful energy. Instead, our leaders are obsessed with tilting at windmills.
All states are equal. But some are more equal than others.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb) will vote for the health care bill, after the Democrats sweetened the pot for his state.
From the article: "Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost."
All states are equal. But some are more equal than others.
Also note that state insurance regulation is now as dead as the dodo. From the article: "Instead of a public option, the final product would allow private firms for the first time to offer national insurance policies to all Americans, outside the jurisdiction of state regulations."
And note that insurance companies will be allowed to spend 20% of premiums any way they want. From the article: "And all insurance companies would be required to spend at least 80 cents of every dollary (sic) they collect in premiums on delivering care to their customers." In legislation, "at least" sets a cap. It would be interesting to see what fraction of each premium dollar is currently spent on delivering care: I suspect that it is greater than 80%.
It is plain contempt of the Constitution of course.
What's at stake
"What's at stake is the whole future of the American experiment of putting freedom and liberty ahead of security and welfare. "We believe that each man is the best judge of his own interest." That's what's at stake. This may be the last opportunity for that view of the world." http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2009/Q4/view601.html#Friday
Well said, sir. Best statement of the conflict that I have seen.
Thank your correspondent Jeffrey for the link to the data sources at realclimate.org. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2009/Q4/mail601.html#Friday I am exploring the raw data.
I do not know why the climate scientists chose Fortran 90 to write their models, but I would like to hear their reasons. When I worked as a programmer and systems analyst, we abandoned Fortran in all its flavors, because program development using Fortran could not be efficiently managed. That is, you could not scope a project (in number of lines of code) with an acceptable margin. You could with ADA or C. But that was 20 years ago. Maybe they got a handle on that with Fortran 90.
Me? I would have chosen SAS. SAS's syntax is arcane, but it is the best language available for statistical work. It is the only statistical package that supports large datasets (>10,000 records). Or it was when I was in the bizz. Since the mid-90s, SAS has supported SQL. I do not know if Fortran 90 supports SQL.
I used to run SAS for DOS on a 386 networked to an IBM 3330 that held our datasets and ran SAS for OS/MVS. I was the project statistician. When I found points of interest in a run, I used the mainframe SAS to download a subset of the data to my PC where I ran it through ad hoc programs I coded on the fly for special analyses. This was before SQL was available. Had it been available, I could have done the same analyses (modeling) without the ad hoc coding. SAS SQL facilitates near-realtime modeling.
Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
In the 1970's FORTRAN was what you used, and most of those models began then. It used to be that a Supercomputer program was about 120,000 lines of FORTRAN. That would compile...
There is still an England, at least for the moment
There may not always be an England, the way things are going, but there is still one now.
Try to imagine Barack Obama doing that. Taking a public train, on a scheduled run, on prepurchased tickets. Minimal disturbance for security, minimal security personnel, minimal fuss, and a young commoner allowed to approach freely.
The only interpretation I can put on this is that Her Majesty Elizabeth II either KNOWS, in her heart, that she has nothing to fear from her subjects, or she knows, in her heart, that the crown of the British Empire comes with a target blouse, and wearing the target in public is In The Job Description.
We used to have Presidents who understood at least the latter.
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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