Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Special Snowflake Seeks Rent

Eli observes that special snowflake syndrome is spreading faster than Zika and interacting with the carriers, well, it shrinks a bunny's brains because it is hard to believe that such needy people have survived to adulthood with all of their teeth.  

The Urban Dictionary provides a diagnostic

A malady affecting a significant portion of the world's population wherein the afflicted will demand special treatment, conduct themselves with a ludicrous, unfounded sense of entitlement and generally make the lives of everyone around them that much more miserable.
and recommends running away on first encounter.

A defining characteristic of such carriers is that they insist you do their work, 24/7.  No better example than a tweet exchange btw  Roger Pielke Sr. and Gavin Schmidt a few days ago

Well Eli could display the entire exchange after that, but suffice it to say that Roger goes rent seeking soon after
Continuing his challenge to Gavin for a challenge round of Pielkes All the Way Down

UPDATE:  Somebunny reminds Eli of Nathan Myhrvold and the black solar cells where he proved to Steve Levitt that solar cells could never help with global warming because they were black.  Brad deLong deals with this and RayP invites Levitt and Myhvold to his office for a beat down.  Good times

It appears that rent seeking is a defining symptom of Special Snowflake Syndrome. To continue with Ex 2, a few days ago Nathan Myhrvold is the former chief technology officer at Microsoft posted a manuscript to arXiv which claims that the NASA/JPL group who have been designing a mission to detect near Earth asteroids has got it all wrong and come pretty close to them wanting to go out and hire Mike Mann's lawyer. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy does an excellent job of summarizing the science as well as linking to other blogs and discussions on the set to.

The science argument can be settled in a second.  The NASA/JPL group calibrates its model of asteroid size against accurate occultation measurements of a fair number of objects in the asteroid belt.  They then use the calibrated model to measure the diameters of a large number of asteroids that were observed by previous space telescopes.  Myhrvold claims to use "basic physics" but his results are off by more than a order of magnitude. Bunnies can read Platt and Eli also recommends this discussion in the Asteroid and Comet mailing list.

However, science be damned for this post, for this post, what is most interesting is the exchange between the NASA/JPL group and Myhrvold as described by Plait
Myhrvold says the team was not cooperative about their work and gave him “cryptic” answers to his questions.

Mainzer told me a very different story. She said she worked with Myhrvold multiple times, trying to show him where some of his ideas were either incorrect or not applicable to the work they were doing, but he remained defiant. She pointed out specific errors, but despite that the errors remain in his work.

The errors she mentioned are various, including his confusing diameter with radius in his calculations and using a model that incorrectly determines diameters. For his part he says their model doesn’t include some basic physics, and that some of their numbers are suspicious.
Indeed, even though his model fails a basic bullshit test Myhrvold like an good special snowflake, digs in and demands that the JPL group bow to his genius.  No bunny should have expected anything else.  It's part of the package. This pattern of behavior is especially available in Twitter.  Eli, against his better judgement has gotten brain squeezed a couple of time there.  He shoudda known better.  Just tell em to go away.

Monday, May 30, 2016

So What Does Publishing a Scientific Paper Cost?

More accurately what is the cost of Open Access to authors.  Eli has come across an interesting effort in Particle Physics called SCOAP3,

SCOAP3 is a one-of-its-kind partnership of over three thousand libraries, key funding agencies and research centers in 44 countries and 3 intergovernmental organisations. Working with leading publishers, SCOAP3 has converted key journals in the field of High-Energy Physics to Open Access at no cost for authors. SCOAP3 centrally pays publishers for costs involved in providing Open Access, publishers in turn reduce subscription fees to all their customers, who can re-direct these funds to contribute to SCOAP3. Each country contributes in a way commensurate to its scientific output in the field. In addition, existing Open Access journals are also centrally supported, removing any existing financial barrier for authors. 
where the average cost per paper is given as 1,100 Euro over 10K papers.  The distribution of costs among the participating countries IEHO would be a model for other fields, but, of course, all depends on continued funding.  Even just HEP/Particle Physics subvention of open access requires $10M per year

arXiv is using a different model which represents the only the costs of operating and maintaining the arXiv,
What are arXiv's operating costs? 

arXiv's operating costs for 2013-2017 are projected to average of $826,000 per year, including indirect expenses. The operating budget projections for 2012-2017 include the four key sources of revenues mentioned above: Cornell's annual funding of $75,000 per year, plus indirect expenses,; the $50,000 per year gift from the Simons Foundation; annual fee income from the member institutions; and the $300,000 per year challenge grant from the Simons Foundation, based on the revenues generated through membership payments.
To and extent SCOAP3 and arXiv overlap because arXiv originated in the HEP/Particle Physics community which is still a heavy user.
arXiv would potentially be a beneficiary of redirected funding administered by the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) consortium. It's not clear, however, when this initiative will meet its annual funding goal of €10,000,000 ($14,120,000). It should also be noted that the SCOAP3 initiative is restricted to HEP and particle physics content only, which represents between 18% and 40% of submissions to arXiv (depending how broadly the subject area is construed). If SCOAP3 is successful it could potentially subvent a similar fraction of arXiv's operating costs. We will continue to monitor the development of SCOAP3 and its impact on our long-term plans.
It is well to remember that arXiv almost died in 1999 when the US DOE and LANL lost interest.  How long Cornell will remain willing to house the arXiv is a concerning issue.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

OA EU the OB and who pays

Eli, as he has mentioned before, is a very old bunny.  Back when he was not a very old bunny he took a class from another very old bunny who shall remain nameless, but was very well connected to the scientific/government nomenklatura even further back and who liked to reminisce.

The old Bunny (OB below) one day started for no particular reason to discuss scientific publishing.  He said that after the war (for bunnies of OBs age that would be WWII) there were discussions about how to support scientific research and publishing.  As far as publishing went, the OB said there were two choices, send money directly to the scientific societies such as ACS/APS, etc. or provide money within grants (which were increasing by leaps and bounds) to subsidize publication.

The latter was chosen for the political reason that it would be hard to NOT subsidize commercial publishers if the former were taken, and if commercial publishers were subsidized there would be a mighty hue and cry across the land.

Twitter is abuzz with the EU announcing that from then on (2020) all publications will have to be Open Access (OA). The UK is already there so Brexet will make no difference one way or another.  Victor V is really excited about this. 

Which brings Eli to a couple of points.  In the last few years granting agencies have been writing open access rules into their guidelines.  For example the NSF Public Access Plan reads
NSF will require that either the version of record or the final accepted peer-reviewed manuscript in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings or transactions described in the scope above (Section 2.0) and resulting from new awards resulting from proposals submitted, or due, on or after the January 2016 effective date must:  
• Be deposited in a public access compliant repository designated by NSF;
• Be available for download, reading, and analysis free of charge no later than 12 months after initial publication;
• Possess a minimum set of machine-readable metadata elements in a metadata record to be made available free of charge upon initial publication (Section 7.3.1);
• Be managed to ensure long-term preservation (Section 7.7); and
• Be reported in annual and final reports during the period of the award with a unique persistent identifier that provides links to the full text of the publication as well as other metadata elements. 
The NIH Public Access Plan differs in one significant way imposed by the law
The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the Public Access Policy in a manner consistent with copyright law
Which means that NIH assumes the burden of maintaining the PubMed Central database in perpetuity.

The UK Research Councils have a similar policy, but have explicitly grabbed the bunny by the ears
It is planned that the funding provided by Research Councils to support open access will be increased over the next five years until all published peer‐reviewed papers which derive from Research Council funding are open access (whether published via the ‘gold’ or ‘green’ routes).  This increase in funding during transition reflects an estimate of the time that will be needed for researchers, institutions and publishers to make the transition to a fully Open Access model.  It will also allow publication funding already provided through direct and indirect costs on current grants to be fully utilized.
and they provide a table of block granted payments to the various UK universities.  Just for local interest, Edinburgh gets 1.1 M£, Bristol 0.78 M£, Sussex 0.22.  The total is about 22.6 M£ per year.

Now librarians are caught between the devil (Springer) and the deep blue sea (faculty).  The devil has squeezed the libraries declining budgets dry, while ACS, APS, etc. are not so avaricious their journal packages still cost a bit in an era of declining resources, but librarians are librarians and the point of a library is not to have today's journal available today, but in 100 years or more.  There is always the 100 year old article/book that is still relevant today so they have to ask what guarantee there is that a repository will not have expired, that the 8" floppy, or cd that the information is on will still be readable, etc.  A librarian sees great virtue in paper, even papers not published on acid free paper.

In particular were Eli a librarian, he would be greatly troubled by the suggestion that colleges and universities establish and maintain the repositories for their own faculty's writings.  Who knows what will happen to that college?  Who knows if a publisher who has a repository will go out of business, or even worse, sell out to some dudebro like Martin Shkreli.

So OA has to confront not only right now, but way out when and that is not so easy.

So, what is the answer?

Eli suggests Global Access, a set of linked repositories maintained by all of the funding agencies and learned societies of the world with a uniform Article Processing Fee structure.  If a publisher wants more, let the authors take it out of their own pockets, or rebated overhead, or grandma's cookie jar. Whatever

Authors shall be responsible not only for depositing electronic versions of their articles, but also for ensuring that print versions are available either through commercial or learned society publications/journals or through a library accessible through the World Cat.

If the later is chosen the depositing library shall be responsible for obtaining a unique DOI for the document with appropriate metadata so that it can be searched and identified. 

Of course, it could all be left to Sci Hub.  Maybe not.

Donations to Trump Campaign could go to Trump instead, especially now

I've had a long vendetta about candidates at any political level loaning money to their campaigns and the ethical morass it creates. As with most tough issues, there's a kernel of justification - a campaign needs money early and throughout the campaign, but the money often arrives too late to spend efficiently, sometimes even after the election. My own campaign in 2014 received a $1000 refund for mailing expenses after the election that we ended up donating to charities. If candidates are clear about what they're doing - that they're fronting the money they expect to raise during the campaign, and that they'll convert any unpaid post-election debt to a contribution rather than fundraise from wealthy interest, that's probably okay.

And then there's Trump.

The man who talks so proudly about his wealth and says he's not beholden to special interests because he's "self-funding" his campaign has almost exclusively loaned the money, $43 million as of the end of April, while donating only $317,000.* My opponent for a seat on a local water district board spent $500,000 of his own money in the campaign.

There's a huge difference between fronting the necessary funding for a campaign and self-funding it. Trump and his representatives say he intends to convert the loans into contributions. Then why not make them as donations to begin with? His promise not to pocket campaign contributions could be taken about as seriously as his promise in February 2015 to release his tax returns.

We're at a particularly interesting period because the law views this campaign as two elections:  one to choose the party nominees and the other to select the president. A part of campaign finance reform that has so far survived the Republican nominations to the Supreme Court says that in presidential elections, candidate loans automatically convert into contributions 20 days after the election, which would be the nominating conventions this summer and again after the November election.

As this NBC article points out, Trump is expressly fundraising for the primary campaign where there are very few expenses remaining now that he's won, but millions owed to him personally. Nineteen days after the Republican convention he can use these people's money to pay himself back. Obviously that wouldn't go over well, but a man who jokes that he can shoot people in public while remaining popular might think this issue from the summer would blow over by November.

The other interesting time will be the runup to the November election. Let's assume Trump loans more millions to his campaign but by mid-October realizes he has little chance of winning. If Trump is more interested in his own fortune than in losing slightly less badly, then his campaign will deliberately not spend everything, fundraise like hell through the election and maybe even a day or two afterwards for the die-hards, and then pay off Trump as much as possible. All this is 100% legal.

With an immediate stroke of the pen, Trump could prove all this wrong today by converting his existing loans to contributions, and only making contributions in the future. His failure to do that tells smart Republicans everything they need to know - the only ones who should be donating to the campaign now are the ones who are paying for access.

*The link above says $36 million, while the FEC website is updated to $43m but annoyingly doesn't provide a live link to that result. You can look up the latest here.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Forgot about that thing I use every day

That thing being hot water.

On the issue of electrifying and renewablizing uses that now come from fossil fuels, I've always focused on transportation. Until someone at my Community Choice Energy group mentioned it last week, I completely forgot home heating and water heating. Yes, we'll have to get those off of natural gas. The specific idea is that removing natural gas heating should be subsidized by electrical utilities, seeing as we don't have a carbon tax to make it happen naturally.

This won't be easy or cheap, although it is easier and cheaper for high density construction (and safer).

One significant advantage over electrifying transport is that residences stay around for a long time. Electric vehicles over their decade-or-so lifetime will benefit somewhat from a grid that's getting increasingly cleaner. Electrifying home heating is a 30-year-plus investment, and the grid even in places like West Virginia should be a lot cleaner in time, so the carbon savings will add up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


About time they hit the New York Times:

...floating solar arrays are becoming more popular, with installations already operating in Australia and the United States, and more planned or under construction.

The growing interest is driven in part by huge growth in the solar market in recent years as the cost of the technology has dropped quickly.

Floating solar arrays — they are often referred to as “floatovoltaics,” a term trademarked by one company — also have advantages over solar plants on land, their proponents say. Renting or buying land is more expensive, and there are fewer regulations for structures built on reservoirs, water treatment ponds and other bodies of water not used for recreation....The floating arrays have other assets. They help keep water from evaporating, making the technology attractive in drought-plagued areas, and restrict algae blooms. And they are more efficient than land-based panels, because water cools the panels.
The company attempting to trademark floatovoltaics can jump into one of those lakes, btw.

I tried to push this idea at my old water district five years ago and got nowhere, unfortunately. Now it's an idea whose time has come - in certain places, anyway. Maintenance is trickier, so any place with cheap land and lots of water will have no use for them. OTOH, the hot, water-short areas with expensive land, or problems from algae blooms, or problems from toxics like mercury that become much worse in warm, low-oxygen water are good candidates. All of which describe my water district. Now the local competitor for most-environmental water district has gone ahead with floatovoltaics, so maybe it'll spread.

I still think Lake Nasser behind Aswan Dam is a natural for floatovoltaics, although admittedly it's far from places with power demand. Dryer parts of India could also be great places, and they're experimenting with small systems already.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Consensus Messaging

Eli is a bunny of few words (exactly how many Rabetts do you know that have any), but he is quite mystified by the consensus messaging wars.

It's simple.  Most people when confronted by a controversy don't know enough about the situation to pick a side.  The safe choice is to wait and do nothing.

If a group wants to do nothing it is to their advantage to pretend there is a controversy even if there is not a controversy.

Somehow this escapes the Dan Kahans of the world.

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.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Looking Down - 16 Months of OCO-2

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory - v2 is now 19 months in orbit.  There is datavideo and the first papers are starting to emerge

Somehow Eli suspects that the usual subjects will not be as thrilled by this as the original image.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Christy and McNider Fall Into the "Warming Hole"

In the history of science, it is well known that motivated reasoning can revisit any number of old results in ignorance, be it accidental or not, of previous work.  With bad luck authors of such a revelation have their work sent to those who have done the previous or perhaps just read it and remembered.  With bad luck for the rest of the world not.

John Christy and Richard McNider have form on such things, and, of course Eli is talking about their latest damp squib, Time Series Construction of Summer Surface Temperatures for Alabama, 1883–2014, and Comparisons with Tropospheric Temperature and Climate Model Simulations, which appeared in the Journal of the American Meteorological Society C.

Victor Variable is. . .  dubious

This post gives just few quick notes on the methodological aspects of the paper.
  1. They select data with a weak climatic temperature trend. 
  2. They select data with a large cooling bias due to improvements in radiation protection of thermometers. 
  3. They developed a new homogenization method using an outdated design and did not test it.
Tamino has torn this apart showing that it is the result of a stroll through the garden of forking paths looking for something pleasing to the authors state of mind, that of all the ways to dice and slice the data the only one that met their requirements was summer surface temperature maxima in the state of Alabama

This, as it were rang a bell in Eli's chime factory, taking the Bunny back to the late great Nature Blog which, sad to say, essentially died in childbirth when they invited Roger Pielke Jr. to submit a rather Roger Pielke Jr. ish piece of work, which, as is usual with Roger Pielke Jr. ish blog posts at Rolladex impressed large sites (think 538) promptly crashed on takeoff.  Eli had some fun over there, but what stuck in the Rabett's thinkeria was the graphic of cooling in the southeast US.

Buried down, way at the bottom, was a comment from Jim Angel
The area in the southeast US certainly contains enough data and is actually a light shade of blue and represents cooling trends on the order of -0.2 to -0.5C in the lightest shade and -0.5 to -0.8 in the next darkest shade. It’s unfortunate that they chose such ambiguous colors for these two important distinctions. Three of the pixels show a statistically significant cooling trend during this time period.
BTW, this so-called “warming hole” in the 20th century has been addressed in a few papers. For example,
Kunkel, K.E., X.-Z. Liang, J. Zhu, and Y. Lin, 2006: Can CGCMs simulate the Twentieth Century “warming hole” in the central United States. J. Climate, 19, 4137–4153.
which, in the intro, states that
Trends in temperature during the period 1976–2000 for the summer season only (Folland et al. 2001) show an area of cooling in the central United States, centered somewhat to the north and west of the center of the area of annual cooling found by Folland et al. (2001) for the entire twentieth century; this area of summer cooling was termed a “warming hole” by Pan et al. (2004). Robinson et al. (2002) analyzed the 1951–97 period and found annual cooling in the south-central United States, centered somewhat to the west of the twentieth-century annual cooling area and to the south of the 1976–2000 summer cooling area, although overlapping both. The term warming hole will be adopted here to refer to the general phenomenon found in all of these studies while the region to be studied will overlap all of the above areas and will be defined based on both physical and societal considerations. In addition to the lack of warming on a centennial time scale, the multidecadal variations are an interesting and integral aspect and will be examined along with the century-scale trends.
Folland et al is Chapter 2 of the IPCC WG1 TAR so not exactly hidden away and Pan et al is also out in the open, but the Google does well with "warming hole" taking Eli to a NASA web site that talks about a 2012 paper by Leibensperger, et al, which finds that
. .  the regional radiative forcing from US anthropogenic aerosols elicits a strong regional climate response, cooling the central and eastern US by 0.5-1.0 °C on average during 1970-1990, with the strongest effects on maximum daytime temperatures in summer and autumn. Aerosol cooling reflects comparable contributions from direct and indirect (cloud-mediated) radiative effects. Absorbing aerosol (mainly black carbon) has negligible warming effect. Aerosol cooling reduces surface evaporation and thus decreases precipitation along the US east coast, but also increases the southerly flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico resulting in increased cloud cover and precipitation in the central US. Observations over the eastern US show a lack of warming in 1960-1980 followed by very rapid warming since, which we reproduce in the GCM and attribute to trends in US anthropogenic aerosol sources.

and, oh yes, the conclusion
Our model results show that US anthropogenic aerosols can explain the observed lack of warming over the eastern US from 1930 to 1980 followed by very rapid post-1980 warming. Without US anthropogenic aerosol sources, we find in the model a relatively constant rate of warming over the 1950–2050 period, driven by increasing greenhouse gases. Increasing aerosols until 1980 offset the warming. Decreasing aerosol after 1980 accelerated the warming due to the loss of the aerosol cooling shield. We find that the observed warming from 1990 to 2010 is significantly greater than would have been expected from greenhouse gases alone.
 That aerosol has a lot of coal and uncontrolled auto exhaust in it.  Good news is that the air is cleaner.  Bad news is that the US Southeast is warming up even more.  There is more work on this issue.

None of these papers are referenced by Christy and McNider.  Perhaps Eli should Google it for them

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


Reading legal briefs is not usually a thing of interest, even at Rabett Run.  Popehat points Eli to a friend of the court brief from Marc Randazza in the recent case to determine whether Paramount Pictures owns a copyright on the Klingon language.  Well, maybe simple an acquaintance of the court brief, because as any sentenient Trekkie knows,  Klingon's don't have friends, don't want friends, and as a matter of course, would rather kill any who presumed foolishly to be their friends, somewhat like polar bears but not so cute.  Eating is optional.  Perhaps Eli can give bunnies a taste of the brief and send you on your way to read the whole thing

Plaintiff Paramount Pictures Corporation (“Paramount”) has claimed this copyright interest for many years, but has not actually asserted it in court before now – most likely because the notion of it is(7) .
7. English translation: “it lacks reasons.” Latin transliteration: “meq Hutlh.”