Sunday, May 22, 2016


Today's random blog post features my empathy for the woman describing her misophonia - an abormally strong aversion to certain sounds such as eating noises - in this New York Magazine interview. I have a mild version of what she's talking about, although I've read of others in even worse situations who can't go to restaurants or parties.

The woman interviewed seems to have acute hearing and a wide range of noises that drive her to distraction. For me it's mainly lip-smacking and chewing with the mouth open. Of course those things bother lots of people, but maybe twice a month they bother me to the point where I have to do something, put on earbuds or move to a different seat in a coffee shop/bus/theater.

There's definitely a psychological component to it - the saving grace for me is that loud chewing noises don't bother me if I'm also eating, and those two overlap the vast majority of the time. Like the woman interviewed, children eating noisily doesn't bother me. I've also spent a lot of time in Asia where the norm in some places is to slurp noodles, which doesn't bother me, mostly. My hearing is average, not acute. All that makes me think it has to be partially psychological.

Reading her interview gave me an interesting gender perspective - I've been self-critical about not getting over it, but being male means I've never wondered if I'm just a bitch.

And then there's the issue of who deserves criticism - the public lip-smackers and open-mouth eaters, or me for reacting so much to it. My guess is that I'm close enough to normal range that I can manage my response to close-to-normal levels, but people who have a more severe problem really can't help it. Maybe I'll do some special pleading for them, and I'll be the lucky beneficiary on the side.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Someone tell medical researchers that consensus doesn't belong in science

Wandered across this a few days ago, and am now posting about it with all due speed:

This paper describes the consensus opinion of the participants in the 4th Triennial Yale/Harvard Workshop on Probiotic Recommendations. The recommendations update those of the first 3 meetings that were published in 2006, 2008, and 2011. Recommendations for the use of probiotics in necrotizing enterocolitis,childhood diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Clostridium difficile diarrhea are reviewed. In addition, we have added recommendations for liver disease for the first time. As in previous publications, the recommendations are given as A, B, or C ratings.
The issue isn't probiotics and their specific medical recommendations but rather that climate denialists regularly tell us that consensus has no place in science. Why are medical researchers talking about it, then, and not just here but throughout medical science. Either consensus does have a place, or we need to add the entire field of medicine to the vast conspiracy maintaining the climate change hoax.

More seriously, consensus happens in all scientific fields, but it seems like applied science is where it's particularly important to elucidate the consensus. Medicine is obviously applied science, and so is the issue of whether we're changing the climate in a way that requires us to do something. There could hardly be a more an obvious place to understand and use it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life Is Short. Must It Be Brutal?

is a question Ian Martin asks in a political context.  Eli is a strange creature who always wondered why others need the promise of an afterlife to answer that question one way or another.  The existential drive others have towards settling other planets, even star systems is to Eli another such question.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, are constantly asking, "Is that all there is?" The question too often blocks making the most of what we have. In Eli's humble opinion, yes, the Earth is all there is for us who here abide for better or worse.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Personal note

With California ballots arriving in the mail, I was about to urge San Francisco Bay Area voters to support Measure AA to provide funding to protect and restore the Bay, at which point I should probably disclose that my new employer also supports Measure AA. So, my personal note is that I joined the Bay Area environmental organization Greenbelt Alliance this month, as Program Director working on open space protection - natural habitats, ranchlands, and farmlands.

Greenbelt promotes the right growth in the right place, so within Bay Area cities it promotes housing, particularly affordable housing, access to public resources and good transportation, while it also works to prevent our region's cities from sprawling and merging. Climate change is a cross-cutting issue inside and outside of cities, as is water.

My position is somewhat similar to an old one I had at another environmental organization when I first came to Rabett Run in 2011, although this is at a bigger organization with a broader scope. Still, my work there is to represent the organization while my fun here at Eli's is to spout my own nonsense. To keep the distinction I probably won't talk about Greenbelt's issues all that much here, except on occasion when it's really important. Protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay is really important.

Of specific importance to climate activists, many of the old salt ponds ringing the Bay and diked off from it have sunk in elevation. If they are restored before sea level rises too much, then emergent, tidal wetland vegetation can anchor in the mud, catch sediment, and possibly keep pace with sea level changes. If it's too late then even when opened to tidal action, the salt ponds become deep, open water areas with little or no sediment accumulation and the wetlands never come back.

I've been out to some tidal wetland restoration projects in the Bay, and they're great, with some endangered species (a bird and a mouse) moving into habitat that didn't exist a few years earlier. That success can be replicated, beginning with the vote on this measure.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peter Webster's Coming Out Party

Ever since Judith Curry went feral, Eli has wondered where Peter Webster stood.  Webster is Curry's colleague, business partner and husband.  Was it the good cop, bad cop routine, a you do your thing I'll do mine or what.  Sou points to Emails from Webster to Ed Maibach that CEI got from George Mason.  This was CEI's response to a petition originating with Jagdsih Shukla and Maibach asking that the fossil fuel companies be prosecuted under RICO.

There is little doubt that the fossil fuel companies did conspire to obscure and deny the damage that their products have done.  There is little doubt that CEI profited in that campaign.

Still, there are a couple of bits of interesting information in those Emails, including,

and especially this one which Sou highlights

Eli's friend, John Mashey gets a mentions

Oh yes, there are some letters from deniers that are just up Sou's alley but not much else.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jelly Beans: Gavin, Steve, ATTP, Lucia,

What do jelly beans have to do with Rabett Run Eli hears you wondering.  Well, there is currently much ado about jars full of jelly beans, touched off by Gavin Schmidt's deconstruction of the Christy graph.  To say that Christy put his finger on the scale, well, those were pretty heavy fingers and Eli has tried to point to some of them in green, of course

In any case this has touched off a climate audit food fight about something else, both there and at ATTP and at Lucia's and lord knows where else.  The issue has to do with how to compare a single observation to the results of a series of model predictions, FWIW, as ATTP says
In other words, in comparing the models and observations, Douglass et al. assumed that the uncertainty in the model trends was the uncertainty in the mean of those trends, not the uncertainty (or standard deviation) in the trends. This seems obviously wrong – as Gavin says – but Steve McIntrye and Nic Lewis appear to disagree.
Eli had a jar of jelly beans and he showed the jar to the bunnies telling them that they could win a bunch of carrots if they guessed right.  They all guessed how many beans were in the jar, as a matter of fact some of the fatter and greedier bunnies guessed more than once.  There were a lot of bunnies and the distribution of guesses grew smoother as more entries were made.  Given how many bunnies there are, there were a very large number of entries.  Then everybunny gathered about as the beans were counted.

 At the end one of the bunnies won (Thumper), but her guess differed from the well known mean guess by a bit, but the distribution of guesses was very well known.  Another of the bunnies demanded a recount.  So we recounted . . several times.  There were a lot of beans, the table was small, and there were a couple of characters with bulging cheeks, the number counted kept on changing.

Willard Tony Watts Takes Up the Knappenberger Eraser

In the previous post Eli describes how Steve McIntyre tried it out on Richard Betts and got snookered in the British sense, in American, perhaps best put as self inserted behind the eight ball.  In passing it was mentioned that Willard Tony Watts not only got it wrong, he does lots of that, but how he got it backwards again.

Specifically WT messed up erased the timeline in a bunch of tweets between Steve and Richard (English Richards never being Dicks, well except for Richard Tol, who is merely resident there until June when all the foreigners will get Trumped in the referendum).

But wait, poor Eli was too trusting.  Turns out that WT messed with the time line or more exactly used the Knappenberger eraser.  Somehow, now some, not Eli to be sure, might think with malice and enthusiasm, the time stamp went missing in each of Richard's, not Dick's, tweets, this being used to show that Richard Betts ran away from Steve and then came back to subterfuge the McIntyre beast.

UPDATE:  WUWT posts a correction about when Richard Betts wandered off:) 

In such things, screen grabs are best.  WT writes:

Curiously, why does Eli have to always right curiously when it comes to WUWT emissions, but curiously, above this post coda in other tweets, the time stamps are there as shown below, but just somehow in order to make RB look evil, the posting times are missing.

And, yes, indeedy, should somebunny look at the actual time stamps it is clear that RB left the building after giving SM a reading assignment

It's always count your fingers time at WUWT and Climate Audit.  Google needs to put up a warning.

Watts Worships the McIntyre Spaghetti Monster

Steven McIntyre got into it with Richard Betts on Twitter May 2, about how the evil IPCC report did not emphasize "global greening".  Of course, everybunny knows that global greening will save the world, well, everybunny except those who actually study what increased atmospheric CO2 will do, that which there will be a fertilization effect, it is limited and there are countervailing, very countervailing effects from increased heat and messed up precipitation that will make things a lot tougher.

Richard basically told Steve that he was talking through his hat, in detail.  Tony Watts thought that McI was just splendid. Eli, Eli thought McI was hilarious, mistaking the symbols for how increased CO2 in the oceans leads to acidification to that for the effects of atmospheric CO2. Tony, Tony was hopeless as he mangled the timeline in Steve's favor, sneeringly ignorant as it were.  Both providing great examples of motivated bullshitting.

Twitter being Twitter, Eli thought he would learn how to Storify to put the thing in order.  It is a long storify.  Paying attention to the time stamps off we go.  It starts with a post from Richard Betts on Carbon Brief about CO2 fertilization and climate change, to which great exception was taken by Tony and Steve.  

Throwing spag against the wall in the hope that something sticks is old hat for McIntyre as Eli can attest

Monday, May 09, 2016

Depressions and Holes in the Ground

Arthur Smith, as his wont, raises an interesting point at Not Spaghetti about a stopgap for handling sea level rise

. . .  there may be something much simpler we could do that would not require huge energy expenditures in itself: retain more of the naturally precipitated water on continental land. Annual precipitation depth over most land areas of the world is on the order of 1000 mm/year. If we just divert 0.3 to 1% of that rainfall to prevent it from returning to the world's oceans we could stop SLR until whatever storage capacity was involved became full. This could have significant additional benefits. Increasing the world's reserves of fresh water could help alleviate the droughts expected under climate change. Large water reservoirs close in horizontal distance but significantly separated vertically could provide new pumped hydro-electric energy storage that would be the perfect complement to increased solar and wind resource use. Refilling underground aquifers would reverse the salt-water incursion and stop the land subsidence problems that have plagued some parts of the world in recent years. What are the potential total capacities of these systems?
Indeed, BF Chao has long been on the track of the effects of sea level of both impoundment and depletion of water resources on land.  The effect is large, and indeed has had measurable consequences on the observed sea level rise.
a total of ~10,800 cubic kilometers of water has been impounded on land to date, reducing the magnitude of global sea level (GSL) rise by – 30.0 millimeters, at an average rate of –0.55 millimeters per year during the past half century. This demands a considerably larger contribution to GSL rise from other (natural and anthropogenic) causes than otherwise required.  
There are some obvious places to put a whole lot of water, for example moving water from the soaked east coast of the US to the west, or simply using it to recharge the Ogallala Aquifer.  In Africa, pumping water from the Med to fill the Qattara Depression, and in Asia, refilling the Sea of Aral.

Not that these ideas have gone unmentioned in the past, but, of course the issue is where to get the energy needed to move the water.  Eli has half an answer.  Solar and wind power, as has also been not unmentioned, suffers from intermittency.  To handle this intermittency requires overbuilt capacity, geographically spread out.  When there is excess electrical power, that excess can be used to move water into storage reservoirs, both above and below ground.  With proper design, some storage schemes (as Arthur points out) can be used for hydro generation of electricity when needed.

EVs more convenient that ICEs in Lower Manhattan

NYTimes reported a while back that the last gas station on the east side of Lower Manhattan has closed, while one remains standing on the west side. In all Manhattan (pop. 1.6 million) there are 50 gas stations, 30 fewer than were there eight years ago. While owning or even operating any vehicle in Lower Manhattan is crazily inconvenient, it seems clearly more inconvenient to have a gas engine car there than an EV.

I'm sticking with a prediction I made in 2013 that as EVs start taking up measurable market share from ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, the infrastructure that makes gas engines so easy to drive is going to have its own problems. I'm randomly guessing the pain starts when EVs take 3% or more of the market - sales are at or exceeding this level in some markets, although it'll be a few more years for the percentage of vehicle miles traveled to have similarly changed to EV-powered.

I doubt EVs have cut much into gas station sales in Manhattan up till now, and it's other changes that have made gas stations uncompetitive in Manhattan. Still, anyone thinking of investing in gas stations there would have to consider what will happen to that market over the next few years and longer, and EVs will become an increasingly important force to depress sales.

From the same NYTimes article, the total number of gas stations in the country has dropped by more than half in the last decade. Manhattan is obviously unique but it can also be predictive. Total gas consumption has dropped relative to 1997 and is projected to not to increase, but the value of land for uses other than gas stations has increased. They will either need to charge more for gas or switch properties from gas stations to other uses, like what's happened nationwide and especially in urban areas.

There are two versions of the idea that EVs will affect ICE infrastructure. The first is relative convenience. As EV charging infrastructure spreads and EV range increases, the relative convenience of EV versus ICE will start moving in favor of the former while gas stations begin to disappear, and fewer car shops and technicians will do ICE maintenance. The second version is that ICE will have its own version of infrastructure anxiety, like the range anxiety that some people feel today for EVs and the annoyance an ICE driver now feels in Lower Manhattan.

It might take a while for this second version to affect buying behavior, but relative convenience can change quickly and can by itself start affecting the market, as more people find it easier to charge their EVs at home and work than to drive ICE cars to fewer numbers of gas stations. Even if it's just a matter of a gas station on one corner instead of two corners of an intersection, that adds another 30 seconds for a car to get to the gas station and fill up. The relative convenience moves slightly towards EVs. In some places the ICE inconvenience will be much greater than that.

EV sales were 3.1% of all California vehicle sales in 2015, and in some Bay Area cities exceeded 5%. Again I don't think they're the primary factor closing gas stations now and won't be for a few years to come, although I do think they affect current, long-term investment decisions. They will reduce actual gas sales and ICE maintenance sales some years down the line, and that will have a ratcheting effect.