Friday, May 30, 2008

latest CO2 level

The latest measurement of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere is 387 ppm, measured at Mauna Loa.

Then this journalist goes on to write:
The level is just a few years from what many scientists regard as the tipping point of 400ppm.
Oh Man. I am really starting to hate this term "tipping point." There is absolutely no science or calculation -- none whatsoever -- that demonstrates any "tipping" phenomenon at 400 ppm. It's only an ominous number because humans happen to have 10 fingers. That's it.

Cell Phones

Sydney Morning Herald, May 25, 2008
The International Telecommunications Union reports that the number of mobile phone users worldwide soared to over 3.3 billion by the end of 2007, equivalent to a penetration rate of 49 per cent.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

NY Times:



These are all lemmas which prove the following theorem:



If you cannot fall in love with Starbuck based purely on this 4-minute song, then.... well, I don't know, I don't want to be judgemental. There are lots of reasons to love lots of different women, I know, believe me, most of which make little sense to anyone else unless you talk to them for 2-hours in a beer-soaked conversation beside some decaying bar-b-que pit aside a back porch on an overly warm July night -- and maybe not even then.

Henry Payne

I mean, I just don't get some people. Don't they care at all about how they look?

On Planet Gore, Henry Payne complains that anthropogenic climate change cannot possibly true because it was cold in Detroit last night:
In Detroit last night — that’s May 28 — temperatures plunged to 39 degrees, just missing the record set in 1966 by half a degree. The Midwest is experiencing its latest spring in well over a decade, as temperatures have consistently been 15 degrees below normal.
Really. Payne is clearly a smart enough guy to understand that climate is not weather, but rather its long-term average, long-term meaning 5-10-20 years.

So why does he make this kind of argument? It really makes no sense to me. Doesn't he have any intellectual pride at all??

I'd be extremely embarrassed if I were him, ignoring basic knowledge that nearly everyone understand by now, just to advance my cause a picometer down the road. Who does he think he's fooling? And if he does fool anyone, what relevance does he think they have?

Maybe the real question is: why am I wasting my time with this kind of malarky?


By all means, take your best shot at today's climate science. We need that. Analyze it every which way you can. But don't give us 3rd grade arguments.

Brookings Institute Report

This Brookings Institute report released yesterday is ... weird. The summary spent 100 pages listing all the data in prose, when a simple 2-page table/spreadsheet would have been much more readable and useful.

They must get paid by the word over there.

LA's Carbon Footprint

Yesterday the Brookings Institution released a study saying that Los Angeles was the second greenest city in the country (after Honolulu) in terms of its carbon footprint.

Then you read the details:
  • The calculations did not account for the fact that half the city's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. Instead, [they] used a state-wide average that included the hydroelectric and nuclear plants in Northern California.
  • Omitted from the data are emissions from industries and commercial buildings, and from local roads apart from federal highways.
Why might something like that happen?
As the Bush administration fended off pressure in recent years to sign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty limiting greenhouse gases, more than 800 U.S mayors signed a "Climate Protection Agreement" to cut their cities' emissions to 7% below 1990 levels, the Kyoto target.
If your mayor signs up for a goal, you can be sure his bureaucrats will try pretty hard to meet it -- on way or the other. Soon we are going to be in a position where all of our cities are claiming significant cuts in their carbon emissions, but overall emissions for the United States will continue to grow.

John Fleck revealed Albuquerque's machinations a few months ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

U.S. Science

Washington Post:
"Science in the United States has really kind of died over a quarter of a century, even as the importance of science has grown."

-- Nina Fedoroff, science and technology adviser to Condoleezza Rice

Life Improvements

A couple of things that have improved my life on the Web, at least a little bit:
  • HyperWords extension for FireFox: allows you to highlight any word or phrase on the Web page you're reading, and with a right click immediately search in Google, Wikipedia, Google Images, and other common programs.
  • Unit conversions via Google: I used to like doing unit conversions, but a few decades of them and they get a little tiring. Plus, you can make stupid amd embarrassing mistakes. But I may never change another unit without Google. Simply type in it
9.8 m/s/s in lightyears/year/year

and it tells you 1.03. I have yet to come across a unit conversion it can't do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I was driving back across the Williamette today and Bachmann-Turner Overdrive came on the radio.

Has there ever been a better name for a band?

No. Period.

Anyway tonight I am looking them up on YouTube, and it reminds me of the week my cousin Krys and I spent in the farmhouse on my grandpap's (remote) farm, just the two us, teenagers, cooking for ourselves for the first time, sleeping on the dilapidated mattresses of this dusty, falling-apart building that we half-thought was haunted, gathering eggs from the chicken-coop in the morning, putting up with our grandpap coming up and looking in on us twice a day.

We would put a blanket out in the yard, uncut and weedy, and turn the radio -- this was slightly before decent portable stereos -- up loud and think we were cool. Mostly it played Radar Love (a song I sometimes think should be the USA national anthem, and someday I am going to prove a 1-to-1 relationship with Francis Scott Key's version), and, of course, BTO:

This was rock that, dammit, got things done. None of this Dandy Warhols shit, or the fucking Decemberists, or even Green Day, wherever the hell they are tonight.

Yes, their rainbow is stupid, their hair is stupid, and their drummer wears glasses. They're Canadian -- did you know that? Today, they look like a bunch of linebackers ready to take your damn head off, at least to the degree a bunch of Canadians outside hockey gear can look:

But I haven't heard many songs since that are this good.

A few, sure. But not a lot.

I don't think my grandpap really trusted my cousin and I up in his farmhouse.


A few weeks after Simon and Garfunkel had their first major hit -- "Hey Schoolgirl" -- they were spending a summer's Saturday night in one of their's car parked along some leaf-covered street in Queens, I think, listening to the radio, talking, hanging out, and their hit song came on.

One of them looked to the other and said, "I bet those guys are having the time of their life right now."

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan, President Bush's former press secretary, is out with a book, and low and behold he spills many beans.

You can read the details here. I see no need to repeat them, and nothing is very surprising. Basically, McClellan admits he was an unwitting part of several manipulations and coverups, and of course he didn't know a thing about any of it, not a single, intsy thing. He was just there as a mere mouthpiece who went in front of the press and repeated what he was told like a good little puppet.

Do you want to vomit yet?

Men like McClellan are -- and always have been -- the enablers of misguided and dishonest leaders. They sacrificed the basic principle of human interaction -- honestly -- in order to be close to the center of power, to look important, to be someone.

Maybe to sell a few book afterwards.

Now he wants our sympathy. But if McClellan really wanted to be useful, really want to be an honest man, he could have came out in the middle of it all and told the truth. Sure, he'd lose his job. There are more important things in this world than jobs. If you haven't lost one on principle, you haven't really lived.

Now we're supposed to believe Scott McClellan, like he's some big hero for disclosing the "truth" years later when he's perfectly safe. Thus does corruption, dishonesty, and arrogance propagate through the centuries. It is sad. Like the day when war ends because all men refuse to fight them, corruption will end when all men refuse to cover it up.

Before they publish.

Exactly backwards

I hope that in 75 years time, some climate historian or even an ambitious graduate student, trolling through the Wayback Machine v17.2 and reviewing these early "blogs," comes across this quote by Czech President Vaclav Klaus:
"It could be even true that we are now at a stage where mere facts, reason and truths are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda," he said.
That is, truly, an astonishingly bold accusation. Klaus actually seems to believe that there is some grand conspiracy among climate scientists, all of them promoting global warming, all so they can continue to get funding.

If they wanted more funding, wouldn't they be highlighting the uncertainties about climate science, and not the consensus point of view? I mean, what young 26-year old scientist doesn't want to prove his elders and the consensus wrong? It is exactly how scientists advance in their careers. Of course, they do it by trying to prove Witten wrong, not Maxwell.

Klaus will surely be dead, but I hope that there could be some kind of karmic justice for him, some judgement by history, or at least some wry sarcasm in his Wikipedia v9.8 entry that shows how wrong he was. And arrogant.

(*future Wikipedians: don't forget to reference this post.)


According to this Nature news article, today's climate models are running on computers that calculate 10^13 operations a second.

Meanwhile, the fastest machines in the world are now approaching 10^15 ops/sec.

Today's climate models break down the earth's surface into roughly 100 km-on-a-side grids. If they could calculate 10^17 ops/sec, it says they could begin to approach the 10-kilometer scale or lower.

It seems fairly absurd that we are not dedicating the fastest machines in the world to calculating the future climate. Our survival could, literally, be at stake. What bigger priority could there possibly be?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cool Photographs of Phoenix

Here are some great photographs of Phoenix on its way into Mars, yesterday, taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently in orbit around Mars.

NASA says: "This is the first time that a spacecraft has imaged the final descent of another spacecraft onto a planetary body."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Night news

A large group of very smart people send a spacecraft 400 million miles from earth and land it successfully on a distant planet, and what is the New York Times' lead story at this hour?

About a bunch of pretty boys and girls who yet another movie -- what, one of perhaps 100,000?:
At Glittery Cannes, a Gritty Palme d’Or
Laurent Cantet, right, posed with some of the nonprofessional actors in his film “Entre les Murs,” which won the Palme d’Or at the 61st Cannes Film Festival.
Really, I'm not angry.

I'm just disappointed that the vast majority of humans on this planet would rather look at pretty, rich, pampered people instead of one of the most serious engineering and scientific projects of all time.

What can you do?

MSL, July 2010

What's up next on Mars? The Mars Science Laboratory, a 2000 lb rover that launches in (appx) Sept 2009 and lands on Mars on July 10, 2010.

You know, watching all these guys and women standing around NASA HQ congratulating themselves now and having fun.... it's clear they couldn't have been doing much before the probe landed. Clearly it was essentially all completely automated, and they were just sitting around monitoring.... even more impressive.

First time in 32 years we have landed on Mars via a propulsive system, since the Viking system....

We now have 3 systems on Mars all operating at the same time....

Pictures to come

5:10 pm: Pictures in 1.5 hrs, some guy on NASA TV says....

Project Manager

5:05 pm PDT: Solar arrays still to deploy.... but Project Manager Barry Goldstein says this went "absolutely perfectly." Spacecraft is pointing perfecting east-west.

Wow. I can't imagine how he feels. I was a Project Manager at AT&T when we launched a few network projects -- one in particular was a conference calls strung all across the country, 10 or so nodes and 25 or so people pushing switches everywhere, me on another line to marketing telling why our sequence of call-in beeps is slightly off, my marketing manager saying, fuck it, keep going.... That was a really great day. Must be 10 times greater for NASA....

Mars picture?

5:01 pm: I hadn't even thought to ask, but will Phoenix be beaming back an image of the surface in a few minutes?

I can't imagine it wouldn't....

NASA guys

4:57 pm: It is really fun watching all these guys congratulating themselves and slapping high fives everywhere, even at friends on the other side of the room's glass. I imagine they have been working on this for years.... This will be an absolute highlight of their careers.


4:54 pm PDT: Phoenix appears to have landed.

Wow, that was exciting there in the last 1.5 minutes.

4:56pm: "Phoenix has landed."

Entering the Atmo

4:47 pm PDT: Comm Central just counted down the entry into the atmosphere, to the second.

How can that be? Surely the atmo thins out as 1/r^2, or maybe an exponential. How can they call the boundary that sharply??

Blue shirts

It's a little weird that all the NASA technicians are wearing identical blue shirts. This isn't the military. I kind of like how in the Apollo days everyone just wore a white shirt and a tie of their choice.

If they were physicists they'd all be wearing bermuda shorts and Birkenstocks. Probably too much to ask for.


An interview on NASA TV says that landing successfully on Mars is a 50-50 proposition....

Wireless Batteries

4:10 pm PDT: Comm Central (who sounds Russian or Yugoslavian) reminds everyone this is a "good time" to change your wireless batteries.

Seems almost primitive.

Phoenix -40 min

4:07 pm PDT: are you watching NASA TV? You should be.

I love that the lander, just before touchdown, orients itself east-west so its solar panels line up with the sun.

These guys are good.

Phoenix update

12:29 pm PDT:
Just got an email from JPL: Phoenix is on target for a 4:38 pm PDT landing.

Though I was wrong about the Mars-Earth transit time for radio waves: it's 15.3 min, not 10 min.

Phoenix Lands Today, on NASA TV

Coverage of today's Phoenix landing on Mars begins at 3:30 pm PDT on NASA TV.
The lander is expected to touch down on Mars at 4:53 pm PDT, although there's a 10-minute delay between Mars and here so no one (on Earth) will really know until 5:03 pm PDT.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Universities -- above all -- are supposed to be repositories of knowledge, creators of truth, oases of freedom an dintellectualism, in a world that too often barely values these traits at all -- and this kind of conduct is absolutely indefensible:

On campuses nationwide, professors and administrators have passionately debated whether their universities should accept money for research from tobacco companies. But not at Virginia Commonwealth University, a public institution in Richmond, Va.

That is largely because hardly any faculty members or students there know that there is something to debate — a contract with extremely restrictive terms that the university signed in 2006 to do research for Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest tobacco company and a unit of Altria Group.

I just can't understand how people like this look at themselves in the mirror in the morning.

More on My Theorem

More on Appell's Theorem:

A Global Comeback for Coal

Soaring commodity prices have been an unanticipated boon to coal producing regions that had written coal mining off as a relic of the Industrial Revolution.

New York Times, May 21, 2008

The Pitiful state of US science education

What can you say?
25% of high-school teachers indicated that they devoted at least one or two classroom hours to creationism or intelligent design.... Of the 25% of teachers who devoted time to creationism or intelligent design, nearly half agreed or strongly agreed that they teach creationism as a “valid scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species.
We are largely a nation of imbeciles, taught partly by imbeciles who wouldn't recognize the scientific method if it stabbed them dead in the dark, and unfortunately led by imbeciles who think we should respect these other imbeciles and are too terrified to say otherwise because it might cost them a couple of votes. It is in no small part responsible for the direction our country is headed -- a wave rushing towards a lack of reason, intelligent and informed thought, and respect for the wonders and prizes that science has brought them over the last 400 years.

We are (most probably) screwed.

More on Burying Trees

There's another paper out on the prospect of growing and burying trees in order to combat global warming. The authors, Scholz and Hasse, calculate that the world would have to grow and bury about a billion hectares a year to counteract the 32 GtC/yr we're putting in the atmosphere. That's about 4 million square miles (which more or less agrees with this calculation from an earlier paper by Zeng on the same subject), which is about the size of the entire United States (including AK and HI), or, as the authors put it, "roughly to the surface of the virgin forest cut down in the last century." Every year.

Still seems kinda crazy.

Via Science Daily.

Our Transistors

Each year, the semiconductor industry makes about 100 million transistors for every man, woman, and child on Earth. By 2010, the number should be up to 1 billion.

-- Excerpt from Seven Wonders for a Cooler Planet – The Microchip

Portland's New Mayor

Sam Adams:
Asked if it was odd that he can be mayor - but not married - in Oregon, Adams said it was "surreal."

"With the position of mayor comes life and death authority and responsibility in running a police force, emergency preparedness system and fire departments," he said. "But gay folks still can't be trusted to be married."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Few Hurricanes with Global Warming

Just to show that the science of global warming and hurricanes is not settled yet, a new paper came out in Nature Geoscience yesterday, predicting fewer but more intense storms in the Atlantic ocean as the globe warms.
A simulation of Atlantic hurricane activity for the final decades of the century projected an 18 percent decrease in hurricanes and a 27 percent decrease in tropical storms, researchers at the U.S. government's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey found.

"It does not support the notion that increasing greenhouse gases are causing a large increase in Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm frequency," said Thomas Knutson, one of the study's authors.

Clearly more study is needed. Give the scientists time to do their jobs before you plan out your propaganda.

Primer on Climate Change

This looks like a very good primer on the current understanding of climate change, published by the National Academies:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Barack Obama in Portland

Barack Obama is speaking not 500 yards from my apartment in a few hours, and I had hoped to go see him. They're expecting 50,000 people, his largest crowd ever. But I read that the line to get in, which I can see from my window, is already about 8 blocks long, and I'm just not so sure about that.

Fortunately it's a gorgeous day, 75°F and blue skies.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

John Haught

John Haught in Excerpt of God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens:
"Dawkins’s uncompromising literalism is nowhere more obvious than in his astonishing insistence throughout The God Delusion that the notion of God should be treated as a scientific hypothesis, subject to the same verificational procedures as any other “scientific” hypothesis."
I simply cannot see -- or imagine -- why the notion of "God" should not be treated as a scientific hypothesis.

What is "astonishing" about this? Please, someone -- anyone -- please tell me.

Electrons should be treated this way, no? Neptune, too. Extra-dimensions, supersymmetry, the properties of an ideal gas.

Why does this one "thing" -- "God" -- get to escape such proof, merely because you can't provide it? If you can't provide the proof, then you can't scrape by by imaging this thing as part of all those things that a person can't ascertain. What a royal copout.

I just can't see how a person can make this kind of intellectual argument and still look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. It's absurd.


"There is no way to peace.
Peace is the way."

-- AJ Muste

Friday, May 16, 2008

Life on the Rim

Malcolm Reynolds: "The wheel never stops turning, Badger."
Badger: "That only matters to the people on the rim."
, Season 1, Episode 1

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mt. St. Helens

The Oregonian has some interesting time-lapse video of Mt. St. Helens rebuilding itself. It's going much faster than I ever would have guessed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorses Obama

John Edwards was my favorite Democrat and I would have voted for him in the general election. But I'm not very impressed with his endorsement today of Obama. Could he have waited any longer? It seems pretty obvious he has stood around with his finger in the wind, waiting to see who was going to come out on top, so he could take advantage and perhaps garner the VP spot. Only then did he endorse.

And today in his endorsement speech he talked about "bold leadership." I don't think so.

I have lost some respect for him.

11th Warmest April

NASA GISS is out with their measurement of April '08 global land+ocean temperatures: +0.41°C above the long-term average. It has something for everyone: on the one hand, it's the coldest April in seven years. On the other hand, it's the 11th warmest April in GISS's recorded history (1990-2008).

How you see it depends on where you sit.

Polar Bears are now Endangered Species

Wonders never cease:
The Interior Department has decided to protect the polar bear as a threatened species because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming, officials said Wednesday....

This is the first time that the Endangered Species Act has been used to protect a species threatened by the impacts of global warming. There has been concern within the business community that such action could have far-reaching impact and could be used to regulate carbon dioxide.

After all the corporate giveaways from this administration, especially from the EPA, I never thought I would see something like this.

Acceleration due to Gravity

I was looking through an old notebook last night, and came across this calculation, which is true to 3 percent:
g = 32 ft/sec^2 = 1 lightyear/year/year

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gas Demand per Capita

Everyone is presenting this gas demand data, so I thought I'd present my own: U.S. gas demand per capita, 1991-present.

Source: EIA and Census Bureau. Population linearly interpolated.

350 ppm

Bill McKibben has a piece in the LA Times saying that we need to cut our atmospheric CO2 level to 350 ppm or, really -- really, this time I mean it, I really really mean it -- civilization is going to end at 5:12 pm on May 27th.

The piece even has the ridiculous title "Civilization's last chance," which, I don't know about you, but I kind of resent on behalf of my 3-yr old nephew and my 0.5-yr old niece.

He's even gone so far as to establish an organization -- another one, again -- calling for a 350 ppm CO2 atmosphere. It seems to already cover most of the green efforts on the planet and so, you can be sure, won't accomplish anything, except maybe sell a few more books.

McKibben bases all this on a recent paper -- which hasn't even yet cleared peer-review -- by Hansen, et. al., "Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?", available on the ArXiv.

I read this paper last night and to me, an admitted non-expert, it seems to contain an awful lot of what physicists call "hand-waving arguments" -- semi-quantitative arguments that look more-or-less reasonable but which rapidly pile-up with a chain-link of uncertainites until you can't be sure of whether anything has been proven or not. There's very little rigor and no equation at all that says

disaster > 350 ppm

The 350 ppm level is "suggested," nothing more, which seems like very thin proof to base a reorganization of civilization on.

I might sign on for this, on the day McKibben demonstrates that he's willing to practice what he preaches -- live a life of about, what, 2 tC/yr? And I don't mean with carbon offsets, either -- trees die in 60-80 years and return all that sucked-up carbon to the atmo, just when we don't need it.

PS: I am sorry for being so flippant. It's just that changing some light bulbs and buying a Prius isn't going to cut it. Personally, I can't get much below 6 tC/yr. I doubt many others can either. Everyone else on the planet deserves to live at least as well as I do. That's going to require massive -- MASSIVE -- shifts in technology, in all sectors of life. Probably we can't do it. It will take decades if it is even possible. Asking for 350 ppm is simply a fantasy at this point, and fundamentally ignores reality.

Craig of Craigslist

NY Times:
While unwilling to discuss his wealth, he said he could be a lot richer if he wanted to. “We know these guys in Google and the eBay guys,“ he said, “and they are not any happier than anyone else. A lot of money is a burden.”
On the other hand, I am reminded of the Jewish aphorism "God gave burdens, also shoulders."

Top 10 Earthquakes since 1900

The LA Times has an interesting map of the top 10 earthquakes in the world since 1900. The continental U.S. doesn't have any in the top 10, but Alaska has three of them.

Shaking during the 1964 earthquake in Anchorage lasted for 4 minutes. Imagine.

I'm still anxiously awaiting my first earthquake here in Portland(*). There have been a few small tremors around town since I've moved here, but nothing I've felt or noticed.

(*) Not that I want anyone to get hurt in it, of course.

More on Nanoparticles

San Francisco Chronicle:
Fish swimming in water containing modest amounts of fullerenes, soccer-ball-shaped nanoparticles made out of 60 carbon atoms, showed a large increase in brain damage. These are the same types of fullerenes being used in various skin products.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Seventh Generation

Some people's concern about future generations can be very touching....

Cyclones Happen

Kevin Drum asks:
...what surprises me is that more people haven't been making the connection between the Burma cyclone and global warming. That kind of talk was all over the place after Hurricane Katrina even though it made little sense in that case. In the end, Katrina made landfall as a strong Cat 3 hurricane, hardly a superstorm, and the bulk of the damage to New Orleans was done not by Katrina itself but by the breaching of poorly built levees. That had nothing to do with global warming.

By contrast, the Burma cyclone really is a good example of the kind of thing we're likely to see more of in coming decades.
It's not at all clear that this cyclone is a consequence of global warming, and no one will ever know, and it's scientifically and intellectually wrong to make such an attribution.

Look, cyclones happen, unfortunately. The April 30, 1991 Bangladesh cyclone killed 138,000 people. What that the consequence of global warming?

The 1970 Bhola cyclone in East Pakistan killed up to 500,000 people. Was that a consequence of global warming?

What about the 1923 cyclone in Japan (250,000 deaths)? Or the 1881 cyclone in China (300,000 deaths)? Or the 1737 cyclone in India (300,000 deaths)? Were all these a consequence of global warming?

Want more?

Source: "The deadliest cyclone in history?" Neil L. Frank and S.A. Husain, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 52, No. 6, June 1971.

If you want to attribute this Burma cyclone to global warming, please tell us why you do not associate any of these other past, big cyclones with global warming?

Were all these cyclones a consequence of global warming? Of course not. Cyclones happen. Even worse cyclones that we just saw in Burma. Will they be more likely in the future as the world warms? Perhaps. Probably. But they would happen even if the world wasn't warming.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Carbon Footprint

I calculated my carbon footprint with Carbon Footprint, and came out with 6.1 mt CO2/yr (mt=metric ton=1000 kg). I'm happy with this. I don't see how I can possibly get it much lower, unless I were not to fly at all (at present I only fly about once a year), which would save me about 1 mt/yr.
  • average American = 20.4 mt/yr
  • average for industrial nations = 11 mt/yr
  • worldwide average = 4 mt/yr
  • to combat climate change, the worldwide average needs to be 2 mt/yr
Let's repeat just one more time: we are not going to solve global warming by living like primitive people. It requires changes in technology.

Burying Trees to Stop Global Warming

Well, let's certainly give kudos for imaginative thinking: Ning Zeng of the University of Maryland proposes to sequester all of the world's carbon emissions by burying dead and live trees.

The numbers required are fairly spectacular:
  • 2 million employees constantly employed in cutting and burying trees
  • cost ~ $250 billion/yr ~ 0.5% world GDP
If I figured this at all correctly, the area that needs to be buried is about 3 million square-miles/yr (?), an area the size of the continental United States and about 2% of the earth's surface area. That seems fairly improbable. Not to mention what it would do to the world's ecosystems.

So, again, nice creativity. But there has to be a better way to stop global warming than denuding the planet.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Cyclone

I have been waiting for this, but I didn't think it would come from Al Gore:
Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a 'Consequence' of Global Warming
Former vice president tells NPR's 'Fresh Air' cyclone is example of 'consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming.'

By Jeff Poor
Business & Media Institute
5/6/2008 4:04:54 PM

Using tragedy to advance an agenda has been a strategy for many global warming activists, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to tie the recent Myanmar cyclone to global warming.

Former Vice President Al Gore in an interview on NPR’s May 6 “Fresh Air” broadcast did just that. He was interviewed by “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross about the release of his book, “The Assault on Reason,” in paperback.

“And as we’re talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated,” Gore said. “And last year a catastrophic storm from last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China – and we’re seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming.”

This is just a ridiculous claim, completely unsupported by the science, and the Al Gore's and Chris Mooney's of the world who keep doing this are doing a serious disservice to science and to the cause of responsibly addressing the CO2 problem.

No one is, ultimately, going to believe anyone who stretches and twists the truth. It might get you a headline, it might sell you a few books, but in the end it damages the credibility of everyone trying to responsibly report on climate change. In some ways this damage has already been done.

To repeat: There have been big storms forever. No one storm can be proof of anything. Climatology predicts storm intensity and frequency only in a statistical manner.

This is getting very frustrating.

Discover Magazine

Discover Magazine's carbon footprint: 2.1 lbs CO2/issue.
For comparison, this is the same amount of CO2 produced by twelve 100-watt lightbulbs glowing for an hour or a car engine burning 14 ounces of gasoline.
By comparison, the average American emits about 143 lbs CO2e/day.

How Dogs Drink Water

How dogs drink water -- it's not the way you think:

The End of the SUV

Boston Globe:

The sale of new SUVs and pickup trucks has dropped precipitously in recent months amid soaring gas prices and a weakening economy: SUV sales for the month of April alone fell 32.3 percent from a year earlier and small car sales rose 18.6 percent. This fundamental shift comes against a backdrop of relentless gas increases, and growing concerns over the environment and US oil consumption, according to auto analysts and car dealers.

"The SUV craze was a bubble and now it is bursting," said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University whose research focuses on the automotive industry. "It's an irrational vehicle. It'll never come back."

Germany's Last Glacier

Video: Trying to save Germany's last glacier.

Unfortunately, this seems rather futile.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reich on McCain's Health Plan

Robert Reich on why McCain's plan for health care won't work:
McCain has amended his plan: States would create “high-risk” pools for people with risky pre-existing conditions.

Wha? Lots of states already have high-risk pools. Thirty states require insurance companies operating there to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Problem is, the premiums they charge for such policies are often twice as high as those for people without pre-existing conditions, and the co-payments and deductibles they charge such people are beyond belief. In other words, the insurance companies technically obey they law. They do offer health insurance to high-risk people. But it's so expensive almost no high-risk person can afford it.
Why must we acquiesce to the insurance companies in plans to provide health care? They're vultures, vampires, fuckers who only want to make a profit, and they want to do it regardless of its impact on individuals, even if they suffer, in pain, or even if they die. I mean, this is a war, literally, and they are using all the tools at their disposal to win, regardless of the casualties. I mean that literally. Their tools are briefcases and campaign donations. They will... are.... strangling the country for the sake of their bottom line.

We need to do away with them entirely. Yet no politician -- and no one even on the far horizon -- has the fortitude to admit this, let alone to fight it.

I seriously think an issue like this can split our country in two and eventually even bring it down. How long are people supposed to suffer and die before they take matters into their own hands?

Friday, May 02, 2008


Elephants simply having fun.

Flying Woman

Now here's some quality journalism for you, characterized by an ardent desire to uncover all the facts, interview a spectrum of respectable sources, and insisting on proof of every claim, even if your mother said it:
SENSATIONAL sightings of a flying HUMAN above the skies of Mexico could be true, says a paranormal expert.
Even for a British paper, this strikes me as a new accomplishment.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Coming Global Cooling

This coming cooling in the next decade predicted by Keenlyside et. al in the May 1 Nature is really good news, but unfortunately the politicians and public aren't smart enough to realize that so it could well turn out to be very bad news.

Global warming skeptics will be jumping all over this, despite their previous attempts to denigrate climate models at every turn.
"Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate."

-- "Don't Fight, Adapt; We Should Give Up Futile Attempts to Combat Climate
Change," Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, National Post, Dec. 13, 2007.
Anyway, this latest news is good news because, if it turns out to be true, it means we have more time to get out civilization carbon-free.

But it's bad news because, of course, our politicians and public can barely look a month into the future, let alone a half-century, without being beaten over the head with deadly heat waves in France and warming records set every other week. They simply don't/can't/won't understand that the long-term predictions of climate science are far more important than the short-term predictions. Greenhouse gases still warm the planet. If you steadily increase their concentration, they will warm the planet, and it will take a long time to overcome that.

Overall prediction: bad news.