Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jerry Mahlman goes upside the heads of Conrad Lautenbacher and William Gray

As many are aware, Jim Hansen has stirred up quite a dust storm about political censoring of scientists and science in the US. Although Hansen concentrated on NASA, where he works, the issue has also been raised in relationship to NOAA, and in particular NOAA's official stance on the linkage of increased hurricane intensity to anthropic climate change. In an excellent new blog, Rich Piltz prints the response of Jerry Mahlman. After flat out calling the director of NOAA, Conrad Lautenbacher, a stone liar, Mahlman takes on the hurricane crowd, including Bill Gray:

It is encouraging that some NOAA managers have had the wisdom to back away from the current NOAA Adminstration’s attempts to support the very naive arguments from the hurricane forecasting community who asserted that, somehow, there is essentially no connection between the well-documented increasing warmth of the upper ocean temperatures (in all three major equatorial ocean basins) and
intensity of hurricanes.
Perhaps the kindest comment on this is that the NOAA leadership had essentially no experience with the exceptional, and globally accepted, relationship between increased equatorial temperatures and tropical cyclone intensity increases, a result pioneered by NOAA. Thanks to the exceptional courage of Thomas Knutson, a very respected NOAA climate and hurricane scientist, the ideologically driven distortion of the truth about the relationship between hurricane intensity increases and warming ocean temperatures has been thoroughly refuted.


Anonymous said...

Any idea what he's referring to when he talks about Knutson's courage? The forthcoming paper, as I understand it proving the SST-AGW connection (and which I assume would have to fly directly in the face of the Bell+Chelliah paper defending the natural cycle hypothesis)? Inquiring minds want to know!

Anonymous said...

Eli, I must apologize for my belated response to your queries that I promised a couple weeks back on Pielke Sr.'s "Climate Science" blog. (and should apologize for being off topic while posting a response to your unrelated posts)

I'll try to answer your questions a bit fuller here, even though I might not elaborate too much.

"Do you believe that broadcast spraying of DDT is the answer to malarial infestation? Do you believe that it should be widely used for protecting crops from insect infestation? "

These are two separate questions, and both are going to be difficult to answer. To make it a bit easier let us refer to them as questions 1a,1b,1c.

1A. The spatial enormity seems to make me think that "broadcast spraying" of ddt might be too damn costly. BUT, there might be something to it. If we mean a great reduction in the transmitting vector population, with a very large "broadcast spraying" of DDT as well as other insecticides, and then perhaps a very large release of ('farmed' sterile male anopheles), the results might end up having the net effect of drastically reduced infection rates. (as far as the farmed/sterile bit please look into the Zanzibar Island tsetse fly eradication success.)

1C: "Besides which we do have examples (in some of the countries to which you refer) of previous large scale DDT spraying which lead to large scale resistance development.'’ "

I suppose it'd be more pertinent to name these particular countries. I did refer to "countries" in SSA, but specifically South Africa where from my reading I haven't really seen the large scale (DDT) resistance you are implying. In the major group of A. Funestus in S.A. DDT resistance was/is almost non-existent.

(1b)As far as DDT being used widely for protecting crops, I honestly can't say. If the control methods continue "as is" and it were allowed to be synthesized locally, not much harm might be done, with the benefit of local farmers having access to use a cheaper and more encompassing insecticide. But, it might also put a lot of women and children out of some back-breaking work picking flowers in Kenya.

If they were allowed to use DDT however, this would probably have some detrimental environmental effects as well. But from what I've read of the research into DDT though, I an inclined to think that the benefits still outweigh the detriments by a long shot. Only my opinion though...

again, thanks for the response.

EliRabett said...

Hi C, I'll take some time too. I especially liked your comment "These are two separate questions, and both are going to be difficult to answer. To make it a bit easier let us refer to them as questions 1a,1b,1c." (Seriously, I am a Marxian of the Groucho type, or at least I try to be)

However, part of the first answer is wrong. DDT costs essentially zippo to synthesize, and the starting materials are also cheap. The toxicity for mammels is VERY low (e.g. you need huge doses before you see an effect), and that for insects (before they develop immunity) VERY high.

Anonymous said...

My favorite variant on that joke is from "Professor" Irwin Corey, a stand-up comic from 20-30 years ago who was known for always wearing sneakers. It was supposedly a complete ad-lib, and went something like this:

Audience question: "Why do you wear tennis shoes?"

Corey: "Why do I wear tennis shoes? That's a diffficult question, so to make it easier I'll divide it into two parts. First: Why? Why is a question of incredible depth and subtlety, one that has engaged and frustrated the great philosophers from Socrates up through the modern age. To even attempt to answer would be to insult this great and brilliant tradition by suggesting that someone like myself deserves to be among their august company even for the briefest moment. Now, as for the second part of your question: Do I wear tennis shoes? Yes."

Anonymous said...

Eli, thanks for your response. We're in complete agreement about the costs of synthesizing DDT to be very low. When I said the broadcast spraying might be too costly I was referring to the cost of the spraying itself. (I had in mind an aerial cropdusting type of thing) The largest costs of delivering DDT to the necessary regions are not only transportation from countries where it's made (China/Brazil/?) which aren't particularly high, but rather internal transportation inside the African continent after the shipments reach the ports. (many of the aid agencies delivering food, etc... to regions in need, find that cost of transportation to be much higher than the monetary value of the food/supplies themselves) This is why I wrote that I think it's rather important for the UN RBM program or other aid agencies to try to fund/establish more local synthesis labs/plants in greatly affected areas, and in areas with decent transportation avenues to affected areas. The positives might not only be cost/benefit, but also provide some jobs, and if DDT were to be phased out, the facilities could be upgraded/retrofitted to synthesize replacement pesticides or even something else entirely.

We're also in agreement regarding DDT toxicity for mammals and insects. When I was talking about detrimental environmental effects (which was mainly in reference to farmers using DDT as an agricultural control method but also wrt to the broadcast spraying notion) I was thinking more along the lines of "beneficial" (in the agricultural and public health sense) insect losses, as well as detrimental effects to aquatic organisms which play a large part in mosquito larvae reduction in large enough bodies of water. But again, I think the benefits would greatly outweigh those particular risks.

Not particularly relevant, but I've sometimes toyed with the idea of a simple 'contraption' to reduce?(hopefuly) transportation costs in SSA not only for supplies but for passenger travel as well.
It'd be a very simple airborne craft, powered by cheap pulverized coal from Botswana or somewhere similar, but I've been too lazy to determine most of the proper engineering of it so far, so as of now it's just one of those ideas that will probably turn out to be a goofy/unrealistic one. :)

Another aside, I seem to rememer you posting in a couple places about cool "science inspired music" and will offer this link in case ya hadn't seen it yet: