While 64% of Americans say they significantly changed their driving habits earlier this year as gas prices soared, only 12% now say they have reverted to their old habits as pump prices have plunged in recent months.This agrees with data from the EIA: Gas prices are down about 45% from this time last year, while gas demand per person is down about 5%.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Oregon Wants to Track Your Car
Sure, it makes sense in theory. But it's a very bad idea, I think. One is that it will require a great deal of expensive new infrastructure -- GPS units in all vehicles, and units in all gas pumps that will read the chips whenever you get gas and calculate how much you owe. It's another thing that can go wrong and will no doubt be costly to fix. Etc. All that sounds expensive.
And I can't imagine that the difference between taxing on mileage and taxing on gallons is going to be very different for most people, except for people who are trying to do the right thing by driving an efficient car, who have less externalized costs on the climate (but not, granted, on the roads).
How do out-of-staters pay taxes, if at all? And I read some comment that asked if you will get reimbursed for miles you drive on private property -- a good question if, say, you own a farm.
But mostly, it's a horrible idea for privacy reasons. The government will now be able to know where you are at all times, by reading your GPS unit.
In more than one interview with the Democrat-Herald and others, James Whitty, the ODOT official in charge of the project, tried to assure the public that tracking people’s travels was not in the plans....This last paragraph cannot possibly be true. If all you want to do is calculate mileage between gas pump visits, a non-GPS unit would do that sends your odometer's reading to the pump when you get gas.
The final report detailed the technical aspects of the program. It also stressed the issue of privacy.
“The concept requires no transmission of vehicle travel locations, either in real time or of travel history,” the report said. “Accordingly, no travel location points are stored within the vehicle or transmitted elsewhere. Thus there can be no ‘tracking’ of vehicle movements.”
Why then use GPS units?
But if you have a GPS unit someone in the government will be able to track you. And we all know that these sorts of programs quickly get expanded by power hungry authorities and bureaucrats, just like the drive-through toll collection system did. If the data is there, authorities will demand it in the name of crime prosecution or finding missing persons. All such data collection technologies get abused in this way -- all of them. It is a law of nature -- you know it, I know it, and Whitty knows it. And it will happen here, too.
This is a bad idea, and not an elegant solution to the problem.
Here is the task force's final report (Nov 2007).
Monday, December 29, 2008
I'll be on The Lars Larson Show here in Portland (KXL 750 AM), guest-hosted by Rob Kremer, at 1:00 pm PST. You can listen online here.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Arctic Sea Ice Update
(Click to enlarge; vertical axis in sq km.)
Hansen's AGU Lecture
- it's simply a good review of the state of much of today's climate science
- clearly shows the effects of this past year's relatively strong La Nina
- shows ice age climate forcings and, from that, calculates a climate sensitivity of 3/4 C per W/m2, or 3 C for 2xCO2 and says he's "nailed it". (On his blog, Anthony Watts criticizes this but gets it completely wrong, thinking that Hansen used Mann data of the last 1400 yrs when, in fact, he uses ice-agey data of the last 20 Kyr.)
- gives lots of pretty charts neatly summarizing lots of data.
- shows a new method of calculating recent past and future climate, based on response functions, that is 100 trillion times faster than computer climate models. (This calculation actually shows a relative flattening of global temps for the first decade of this century, then resumed warming.)
- says he believes that our climate will "possibly" runaway if we burn all our coal and with runaway with "dead certainty" if we burn all coal + tars.
- repeats that our target goal for CO2 needs to be 350 ppm.
Anyway, it's worth an hour of your time.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
experiments of 1961, and found more or less the same (depressing) results -- people are willing to hurt other people if they are told to do so by an authority figure.
Serreze on Arctic Ice
We are quite certain that the almost complete lack of increase in ice extent since about December 10 is real. We cross checked using data from the AMSR (advanced microwave sounding radiometer) instrument and we see the same pattern. This gives us independent confirmation. Past 10 days has also seen a very unusual atmospheric pattern. It has been very warm over the Arctic Ocean, and wind patterns have favored a compact ice cover. While the lack of increase in ice extent is certainly quite unusual, I would not read too much into it right now at is appears to be weather related versus climate related. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week.This is, after all, a weather fluctuation, so you can't put too much into it. But then, the slight gain in sea ice this past summer could well have been a weather fluctuation too. You can only really trust the long-term data, which is, of course, bad.
Lambert on Sea Ice
Given that there is now no possible cherry pick that the denialists can now use to make it look like Arctic sea ice is increasing, I predict that they will start talking about Antarctic sea ice.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sea Ice at Record Low
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has the same result:
Note: This is ice extent, which is not the same as area (though easier to measure). (For that matter, what really matters is volume, but though I hear people are working on ways to measure that, they're not there yet.)
Here's a way of thinking about the difference between extent and area: imagine a checkboard with lots of checkers on it, more than usual. Some places the checkers will touch, but there will be spaces between them. Their extent is the area of the entire checkerboard, but their area is the area of the checkerboard minus the gaps in-between all the checkers.
Thus, extent is always greater than area.
There are, of course, uncertainties associated with each day's measured ice extent, but the IARC-JAXA site doesn't give them (as far as I have been able to tell). So to within the precision of the satellite measurements, today's numbers are essentially the same as last year's. But the ice extent growth rate is very small in the last few weeks:
Ice Extent growth rate, Nov 30 - Dec 21 (thousands of sq-km/day):
Why is this happening? Warmth. Here's the NSIDC commentary from Dec 3 (2008):
The period of very rapid ice growth that characterized October and early November has ended. The rise in ice extent over the past three weeks has been much slower, and should continue to slow until the expected seasonal ice extent maximum is reached sometime in March. Air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean stayed well above average during November, partly because of continued heat release from the ocean to the atmosphere and partly because of a pattern of atmospheric circulation transporting warm air into the region.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Via: Only in it for the Gold (Michael Tobis)
The Farmer's Almanac (Mis)Prediction
He was also chosen as the weather expert for this year's "The Old Farmer's Almanac," published in the tiny town of Dublin, NH, which you would most likely miss if you were to drive through it on NH's Rte 101.
D'Aleo gets a lot of publicity from his GW skepticism. So how well does he do in forecasting the weather?
Not very good, from what I can tell. Not very good at all.
I bought a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac 2009 about two months ago, complete with its hole in the upper left-hand corner so you can hang it by a string in your outhouse. For the Pacific Northwest, here's what D'Oleo predicts for this time of year:
Dec 19-23: Rain, then sunny, mild
Needless to say, our weather in the last several days has been anything but this: lower temperatures than normal, with cold, lots of snow, and very little sun. Not "mild" in the least.
The Farmer's Almanac says their weather forecasts are based on a "secret formula" devised by the Almanac's founder, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792. Thomas "believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun."
The Farmer's Almanac claims an accuracy rate of 80% for their weather predictions. I have no evidence to back that up, and they present none either.
I don't believe them for a second.
Serreze on Arctic Ice
We're having a wonderful winter storm here for the last two days, all over Oregon. Here in St. Helens it's been snowing on and off for about two days, and right now we have about 4 inches of snow. There's a high chance of snow for the next several days, and chains are required on the highways, to get into Portland. (Portland freaks out at times like this.)
Here's a St. Helens weather cam, about 1.5 miles from my house:
Dock Ellis dies
I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me.Perhaps not his best moment, but who can say? But maybe this was:
Incensed that the Reds were bullying his Pirates, he hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen in succession on May 1, 1974, and tried to hit Tony Perez but missed. After aiming two pitches at Johnny Bench's head he was pulled.Man, the Pirates back then were a great team.
Here's Ellis explaining his no-hitter (with the bonus of the call by the legendary Bob Prince):
Friday, December 19, 2008
Hitchens Gives Warren the Business
As Barack Obama is gradually learning, his job is to be the president of all Americans at all times. If he likes, he can oppose the idea of marriage for Americans who are homosexual. That's a policy question on which people may and will disagree. However, the man he has chosen to deliver his inaugural invocation is a relentless clerical businessman who raises money on the proposition that certain Americans—non-Christians, the wrong kind of Christians, homosexuals, nonbelievers—are of less worth and littler virtue than his own lovely flock of redeemed and salvaged and paid-up donors.
This quite simply cannot stand.... A president may by all means use his office to gain re-election, to shore up his existing base, or to attract a new one. But the day of his inauguration is not one of the days on which he should be doing that. It is an event that belongs principally to the voters and to their descendants, who are called to see that a long tradition of peaceful transition is cheerfully upheld, even in those years when the outcome is disputed. I would myself say that it doesn't need a clerical invocation at all, since, to borrow Lincoln's observation about Gettysburg, it has already been consecrated. But if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards.
Via: Portland Mercury blogtown.
Arctic Sea Ice
(y-axis units = sq km). Here's this year's area compared to last year's:
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Holdren for Science Advisor
Holdren is past president of AAAS, and has heavily focused on climate change, energy technologies, and the dangers of nuclear weapons and proliferation.
Like Chu, hard to imagine a better choice.
Food Stamps in Oregon
Oregon seems to have a lot more trouble with hunger than most states, which I haven't understood yet.
If I had a convincing argument that climate sensitivity is small I would send it to Nature or Science today, and I would be famous tomorrow, and the world would be happy because the climate problem is not as bad as we thought. Unfortunately, the data suggests otherwise.
--Reto Knutti, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
-- Che Guevara, Che
But Deming is OK because he's on their side.v But his views are extreme and, more important, wrong.
Just look at this op-ed piece he published in The Edmund Sun on Sept 24, 2008, in which he wrote:
Obama is a vapid demagogue, a hollow man that despises American culture. He is ill-suited to be president of the United States. As the weeks pass, more Americans will come to this realization and elect McCain/Palin in a landslide.He could hardly have been more wrong.
Why doesn't this matter?
Skin Cancer in Australia
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the ozone hole above them.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
I liked this movie alot, and if you like SciFi movies you probably will too. The first 20-30 minutes presented the most realistic depiction of an alien invasion of Earth that I have ever seen on film. As was the depiction of a "gray goo" of microbots (not nanobots) that swarmed around ready to cleanse the Earth of anything relating to humans.
The rest of the movie wasn't bad. It wrapped up a little too easily, with Klattu seemingly becoming convinced of humanity's potential by a sappy hug in a cemetary. But who sees a SciFi film for anything like that? The depictions were cool. Gort was a bit old-fashioned, just with a twist.
Check it out, preferably on a cold, icy night with six other people in the theatre.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Steven Chu quote
Here's a quote from Steven Chu, Obama's choice for Energy Secretary:"Stronger storms, shrinking glaciers and winter snowpack, prolonged droughts and rising sea levels are raising the specter of global food and water shortages. The ominous signs of climate change we see today are a warning of dire economic and social consequences for us all, but especially for the poor of the world," Chu has said. "The path to finding solutions is to bring together the finest, most passionate minds to work on the problem in a coordinated effort, and to give theseNot sure where this is from (or that it matters) -- it was sent around today by LBL media. Can you really imagine a high-level governmentperson who actually gets it?
researchers the resources commensurate with the challenge."
Hadley November Anomaly
I don't like playing the month-to-month temperature game, but if you want to, note:
- the last two months of 2008 (YTD) were warmer than the corresponding months of 2007.
- four of the last five months of 2008 (YTD) were warmer than the corresponding months of 2007.
- RSS and UAH MSU's also have Nov-08 warmer than Nov-07.
Cooling = Warming?
Mother Nature, of course, is oblivious to the federal government's machinations. Ironically, 2008 is on pace to be a slightly cooler year in a steadily rising temperature trend line. Experts say it's thanks to a La Nina weather variation. While skeptics are already using it as evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming.La Nina I get. "Slightly cooler" I get. But a "cooling trend" as an illustration of how fast the world is warming? That I don't get.
(No I don't believe we're in a cooling trend. But I also don't see how one, if it existed, would necessarily be evidence of global warming.)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Credit Where It's Due
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Here's an excerpt:
The world desperately needs to get serious, including President-elect Obama, Europe's leaders and every UN bureaucrat who dined handsomely in the evenings in Poznan. The truth is, the world is not going to be cutting greenhouse gases anytime soon. If ever....
Not one of us – you, me, Obama or the greenest activist anywhere in the world – is willing to live without the comforts fossil fuels provide us – heat, light, instant hot food, convenient transportation, modern agriculture and airplane travel....
Given this, what can we do? Be realistic, first of all. Let's fund geo-engineering research to the hilt, exploring how we can someday modify our planet's natural systems to produce a slight atmospheric cooling. It is our destiny.
But most of all, let's open our eyes and begin to be honest. You will fly to Jamaica this winter instead of cutting your greenhouse gases. Fine. Can we please accept this and begin to move on?
Friday, December 12, 2008
No Gore Effect in Poznan
So how has the weather been in Poznan over this time? 5.4°F above average.
In fact, every day of the conference has seen higher temperatures than usual, and no day has been less than 3°F above normal.
In fact, every daily high and every daily low for each day of the conference has been above normal -- one day as high as 10°F above normal.
Where are all the people always proclaiming about the "Gore Effect?" (Gore spoke in Poznan today.)
Here's the data: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pW5aV1sypLjIpjKn5rwQtTQ
(Yes, it is sad that one must debunk such an absurd, illogical notion as the "Gore Effect.")
Watch Global Warming As It Happens
Now you can watch the breakup in near real-time: the European Space Agency has a Webcam on the area via satellite. The latest images are only about a day old, and it will be updated daily.
This area of Antarctica has warmed about 2.5°C in the last 50 years. The Ice Shelf is floating, so its breakup won't raise sea level.
Prof. David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in July:
"Wilkins Ice Shelf is the most recent in a long, and growing, list of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula that are responding to the rapid warming that has occurred in this area over the last fifty years.
"Current events are showing that we were being too conservative, when we made the prediction in the early 1990s that Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within thirty years - the truth is it is going more quickly than we guessed."
The Ice Shelf is floating, so its breakup won't raise sea level. This site from last March has a nice video of a flyover over the bridge. The BBC says the area of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is about that of the Isle of Man, or about 570 km2.
In the past 20 years, seven ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated or disintegrated, including the most spectacular break-up of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002....
By the way, did you know they have seals down there wearing "hats" that provide temperature data? (If we can do that in the ocean, why can't we outfit mammals on land and do the same thing?)
Here's a map of where this is all taking place:
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Chu as SecEn
I mean, wow. I have gotten so used to...well...hacks in high Cabinet positions that it seems unbelievable we will actually have someone who is intelligent, rational, and forward-thinking.
I mean, do you remember James Watt, Secretary of the Interior in the Reagan administration? A complete wack job. He actually said, when speaking to Congress:
"I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations."And -- and this is, sure, exactly what you want in a high-level politician anywhere, let alone one tasked with managing your country's land:
"After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."People aren't weird even in the Bush Jr. administration.
After office (and after being indicted for influence peddling, he spoke in front of a group and said:
"If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used."What a nightmare.
Or remember Spencer Abraham? Bipedal incompetency.
So why should we expect Chu to be any better? Because he's a physicist!
Sure, I'm biased. But I really do believe that physicists -- or, at least, some of them -- are some of the smartest people on the planet. And, more than that -- and I've know a lot of them -- probably the most educationally balanced people on the planet.
Historians or English majors can get away with not knowing much about quantum mechanics or professing their fear of algebra, but physicists are expected to know about the Shakespeare and the French Revolution and the politics of the US Civil War. It's simply part of being an educated person. And they can convert Joules to BTUs!
Sure, Chu is forward-thinking. That's great. But mostly he's very, very smart, too smart to be easily fooled or suckered by politics or bullshited to.
I'm not saying he can walk on water. But at least he knows what its index of refraction is.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Oregon Conflicts of Interest
Who is the BEF? Among other things, they sell carbon offsets.
This is very inappropriate. It's hardly different than an oil company executive sitting on a federal panel about climate change -- or, as happens frequently in the Bush Administration, any corporate representative serving on a study in which their industry has an interest.
I've seen no coverage of this at all in the media.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
- Linus Torvalds, NPR
That is amazingly cheap compared to what we're used to -- my maximum was $4.339/gal, on 6/17/08.
So now is the absolute best time to implement a $1/gal gas tax.
Obama should do it on Day 2.
Gasoline demand in the US is at 8.6 gal/person/week. A $1/gal tax would thus raise about $130B/yr -- and gas at the pump would still be $2.80/gal, a dream compared to last summer. Every dime of this revenue should go into R&D for alternative technologies.
Imagine what we could do with $130B. The Apollo project cost about $25B total. That's about $160B in today's dollars.
This has always been true of America: put lots of really smart people in a room, and they will figure out just about anything.
Let's get started.
Allen vs. Lomborg
- I have never heard audio or video of Lomberg before -- I am amazed at how American he sounds, with no trace whatsoever of a Danish accent.
- I like the simple way that Allen quantifies the debate -- to me it is a different perspective:
- 0.5 TtC = 1°C warming (though I wonder if this simple rule takes into account the logarithmic dependence of temperature and CO2 level)
- Let 1°C warming be defined as = 1 GWU (global warming unit)
- (TtC = trillion tons Carbon)
- total carbon burned so far = 1 GWU
- reserves of conventional oil and gas = 1 GWU
- reserves of coal = 5 GWU
- unconventional reserves = 3 GWU
- 0.5 TtC = 1°C warming (though I wonder if this simple rule takes into account the logarithmic dependence of temperature and CO2 level)
- Overall, I think I agree with Allen -- I think Lomborg neglects to consider what happens in 2100+, when, if we don't curtail GHGs soon, will be in serious straits. Also, Lomborg is only talking about $50B -- chump change today. Can't we contain malaria and provide clean drinking water across the world and cutback on GHGs? Don't we have to? You can't long ignore a serious problem in your life just because you have other problems. We had $700B to bail out Wall Street at the drop of a hat (literally -- I heard yesterday that the Treasury Department can't even keep track of all the money because it's heading too fast out the door). Why can't the entire world find $50B?
- Why do they introduce these speakers like it's a TV game show?