"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Like It or Not, We Need Nukes

According to this TED talk, sustained power delivery from solar is less than 10 W / m^2, which means 1200 m^2 / capita for current US consumption, times 350 M people = 4200 Million m^2 = 420,000 km^2 = larger than Montana. And that is optimistic and doesn't account for storage/intermittency.

In reality, at least double the area of Texas needs to be covered with solar panels, plus we need to solve the storage problem, to solve the problem on renewables only.

Can Americans get by on less than 12 KW? Well, most people in other countries do, but, realistically, Americans don't like to be told to cut back, and the ones who consume above the average all the more so.

Similar constraints hold for wind.

Only nuclear power allows us to continue the growth economy. And while you and I might not approve of the growth economy, people will not willingly give it up very soon. (It would pretty much kill most people's retirement strategy, for one thing.) And very soon is when we need a solution.

So I have concluded that like it or not, we need nukes.

Monday, December 7, 2015

100th Anniversary of Birth of Vern Suomi

Vern Suomi's 100th birthday was yesterday.

Vern brought an engineer's perspective to climate science, and was the inventor and first leader of satellite meteorology. I had the great privilege of his acquaintance. He remained a constant presence at UW-Madison's Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department until weeks before his passing.

A man both startlingly unassuming (he was normally seen wearing a plaid shirt) and remarkably competent with a variety of talents technical, scientific and administrative, he also was instrumental in making Wisconsin a long-time leader in observational meteorology and space science, which continues today. He also was the organizer of the Charney report in 1979 which was the foundational document of global warming studies.

Vern Suomi was one of the great figures of 20th century science.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Consensus on Consensus

"None of the scientists I interact with think this is a real question", say lots of scientists. For instance


 There are 25 of these little snippets, with about 20 scientists ( a couple of whom get two videos) here.

Nerdghazi Update

L Smith R-TX-21's try to rerun "Climategate" (wilfully misinterpreted science email) scandal fails

There's, equivocal but on the whole good news on the Nerdghazi front.

By Nerdghazi, I mean the latest politics-dressed-as-science from the denier world perpetrated by Lamar Smith. (Thanks to CelloMom for the memorable name, which refers to false scandals in general. I hope it catches on, and eventually we will have a long overdue Ghazi-Ghazi; the mileage Republicans get out of fake scandals is the real scandal.)

There are two pieces of somewhat equivocal good news on this front.

First: after a united and vehement response from the entire American scientific community spearheaded by the AAAS, Lamar Smith's House Science Committee has backed down from demanding scientists' email on the grounds of a trumped up fantasy of a scandal regarding small corrections in data.

Second: the mainstream press is finally taking notice.

The bad news that goes with the good news - First, Smith's backdown is grudging and doesn't really concede the matters of principle involved.

"This week, after eight scientific groups argued that demanding NOAA researchers’ emails could discourage other government scientists from studying anything politically controversial, Mr. Smith told NOAA he would first seek the communications of the agency’s nonscientific staff. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of requesting scientists’ emails in the future."

Second, the press took no serious notice until AFTER the AAAS response.

Still, it's reassuring that the scientific community acting together still has enough influence to restrain the most egregious examples of science-scapegoating.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lamar Smith: Thomas Karl Guilty of Not Being Roy Spencer

According to an op-ed penned by Lamar Smith, the US House Science Committee's subpoena for basically any and all emails between Thomas Karl and his collaborators is based on the fact that they are reporting the surface temperature record when decent scientists are reporting the satellite record.


I elaborate on just how crazy that is at Medium. If you know anyone political or journalistic in the US, I'd appreciate if you would show that article to them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Grypo Saurus on Publicizing Scientists' Conversations

This is a comment subsequent to my notorious F-word posting in response to Steve Mosher suggesting he's "on my side", which I reread and which despite its notoriety I stand by. And it's germane regarding the Lamar Smith inquisition, but I like Grypo Saurus' version better than my own.

Hoisted from comments, April 2011:
There seems to be some bizarre lack of understanding within the obstructionist movement that anything a scientists says or does or emails or anything that can be recorded is a matter of public record, whether the scientist is aware of this or not. This is because we as taxpayers pay this person, therefore, their thoughts are ours for the taking.

I'm unsure what the logic is here, but this is an ideological conundrum, seeing as how many obstructionists argue against action due to a rigid belief in personal liberty. A belief even the non-ideological hold dear. This personal liberty is important to them and most others for reasons that should be obvious, but in this instance, it does not seem to be. Why?

As we've seen from recent attempts from right-wing groups and politicians, the academic establishment is fighting hard against these attempts to provide the public the open access to other's private communications. Academia has taken a stance that it cannot effectively find the truth while under the type of scrutiny that people Mosher advocate and take advantage of when presented to them.

So how does this work itself out logically? Do these people reject that notion that academics take? It's not like we record phone calls, or tape conversations at conventions, or other such things. right? If that were the case there may be better context to fill in the blanks, blanks that so easily allow to be filled with subjective narratives that in no way can be matched up for reality, and in no way gives the person access to the mind. So what is the final goal behind wanting this access to scientist’s emails? For what reason?

The open access types say it is to promote trust. But is that promoted?

Climategate showed us that didn't happen. In fact, the entire reason that Climategate looks so bad is that scientists didn't trust. I wonder if scientists had access to Mosher's and McIntyre's emails, would they trust them more or less? I took a look at my own emails and realized that certain readers would no longer trust me. Any Exchange tech will tell you the same about anyone.

I think we need to look at more closely the logic behind open access, what the goals are, and whether or not the extreme views of Mosher are at all necessary to the results. Especially if personal liberty and the future academia and science itself are at stake. 
Emphasis added.

Bray and von Storch Survey

I've been invited to participate in a new Bray & von Storch survey of climate scientists.

The questions seem structured to de-authenticate climate models. These questions will have a different meaning within the field and outside the field.

When asked for instance "How well do you think atmospheric models can deal with influence of clouds?" on a scale of 1= "very inadequate", 7 = "very adequate", my honest answer for the modeling community is far more severe than my honest answer for the public, because the context in which they will perceive the answer is dramatically different. Many respondents will be unlikely to notice this bait and switch.

There's also this question:

What can I say to that? "No answer" is not my answer, nor are any of the choices.

The lack of a >100% option shows that the survey is being conducted by people who are not paying attention.

I'm not sure I understand the purpose of such surveys anyway. If you want the consensus of a field, you ask the research leaders of that field.

I'm afraid I don't qualify. I guess I don't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member.

I'm inclined not to complete the survey. Or I could just be ornery and fill out the most alarmist-friendly box on every question, because unreal answers opposite to the intended skew are appropriate for an unreal survey?