Sunday, April 29, 2012

Citizens United's worst impact will be where you can't see it

I've been meaning to write for months that Citizens United will primarily harm democracy below the radar, but Ezra Klein's gone and done it for me:

....even at the end of the [congressional election] campaign, many potential voters will know very little about their congressional candidates. They will be susceptible to ads telling them terrible things. Some of those candidates won’t have the resources to fight back.
No one knows that better than the candidates themselves. Both incumbents and potential challengers realize that a deep-pocketed PAC could decide their race. So when they get a call from that PAC’s director urging them to support this or that, they’re that much likelier to listen. The result, then, isn’t just that moneyed interests can throw congressional elections. It’s that they wield more influence after the election — and they can exercise that power without spending a dollar.

Read the whole thing as they say.  I think state level elections are even more subject to this - don't expect the US Chamber of Commerce to have overlooked that.

Unlimited money from the people who have unlimited money, to make sure the system's rigged to allow them still more unlimited money.  Thanks, US Supreme Court.

UPDATE:  best we can do now is disclosure, although that might also be under threat.  For my fellow Californians, there's the California Disclose Act that would help a great deal if it passes.  Best of luck if you live in a Red state, you'll need it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Skinny people dieting to reduce human biomass

So concludes David Appell about Mexico's new climate change law (my paraphrase).  Kinda hard to find detailed info about the law - David has useful stuff, a little more at Nature, and then way too much to sort through at the official legal gazette in Spanish.

The 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 will attract attention, but short term is what counts most to me.  They want 30% below business as usual by 2020, which sounds impressive but vulnerable to weird accounting.

They set overall limits and allow emission trading, so this is cap-n-trade for those who don't like that kind of thing.  I think it can be done well or done poorly.  Hopefully the American and European experiments will help Mexico figure out a good system.

Mexico's drought may have spurred political support for the law.  Too bad we've seen less action here in the States, although climate weirding has seemed to pick up some popular notice.

Progress, a bit at a time.

UPDATE:  what I really wanted to find out is if the law has a counterpart to what's been in American proposals - a tariff on imports from foreign nations that don't control carbon emissions.  That would be interesting, and entirely appropriate.  I skimmed the long Spanish web page but ran out of steam before I could find out.


In a report released today by the Royal Society, People and the Planet, discusses the impact of humans on themselves and the world.  Eli would like to discuss two of the major points of the report

The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels through: dramatic improvements in resource use efficiency, including: reducing waste; investment in sustainable resources, technologies and infrastructures; and systematically decoupling economic activity from environmental impact.
Although perhaps subtle, the point here is to decouple well being from consumption, not to decrease the well being of everyone.  There are technologies which have improved our lives, modern vs. 1950s electronics of all sorts, which are both more efficient and better by any measure.

The second point the report makes
Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues. Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning
 Is really the same as the first
 The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today. 
 Because fertility and economic well being are strongly inverse.  The poorest countries of the world are those with the highest fertility rates, if, for no other reason that having many children is the only way to have any chance of survival (this is a lot harder on women, but in such societies they are often held in contempt as of little value for cultural reasons supported by poverty).  If things improve materially, then people are more confident of their futures

World fertility rates are already below replacement in such countries as Algeria (1.8), Iran (1.9)  and the US (2.05), and falling to those levels or at them in Latin America.  It is only in the poorest countries that high fertility rates remain (Map from Index Mundi, which is interactive there)
Now, of course, such a serious matter requires an I told you so from Eli, so allow the Bunny to simply state his five fold way of dealing with environmental problems
  • Adaptation to deal with the damage already done
  • Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
  • Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
  • Substitution of sustainable systems for consumptive ones
  • Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

As Richard Alley was saying

You have now had a discussion or a debate here between people who are giving you the blue one and people giving you the green one. This is certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side
Evidently someone in Washington was listening to the guy on the red end.  Rolling Stone has an interview with President Obama, in which the subject of climate change came up.  Eli has bolded two key parts of the answer
James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, has said this about the Keystone pipeline: that if the pipeline goes through and we burn tar sands in Canada, it's "game over" for the planet. What's your reaction to that statement?

James Hansen is a scientist who has done an enormous amount not only to understand climate change, but also to help publicize the issue. I have the utmost respect for scientists. But it's important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That's their national policy, they're pursuing it. With respect to Keystone, my goal has been to have an honest process, and I have adamantly objected to Congress trying to circumvent a process that was well-established not just under Democratic administrations, but also under Republican administrations.

The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem. Frankly, I'm deeply concerned that internationally, we have not made as much progress as we need to make. Within the constraints of this Congress, we've tried to do a whole range of things, administratively, that are making a difference – doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars is going to take a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere. We're going to continue to push on energy efficiency, and renewable energy standards, and the promotion of green energy. But there is no doubt that we have a lot more work to do.

Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people's number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it's been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. That there's a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation – that taking steps, for example, to retrofit buildings all across America with existing technologies will reduce our power usage by 15 or 20 percent. That's an achievable goal, and we should be getting started now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Widen the Overton Window After the Dragons Have Left

Willard asks. and indeed the whole saga has taken some interesting twists and turns.  To see exactly how weird read the comments, Eli recommends that you always read the comments at Rabett Run.  Well at least some of them, not Dr. Jay's.  It may be that playing with the crazy to win hearts and minds has some, well, odd down sides.

Eli had some thoughts on this over at Bart's.   Bart is back, with joyous news, go over there and congratulate him and his expanded family.  Still to the matter at hand, Bart commented that he really want to  figure out how to get the disinterested public and the fence sitters to trust science over non-science/anti-science/nonsense.  This is a base question, but you have to realize that the ones denigrating science and scientists have been effectively playing the refs unopposed for years.
The refs realize a cost to being honest (listening to you dippsy uncle at dinner dumping on his flavor of the week) and therefore avoid confrontation, and uncle goes on an on and on (any examples here?).

Know what, after a number of years that nonsense gets absorbed at a deep level. The only way of fighting it is to be confrontational, politely or not. Yes folks, there is a fight going on in front of you and its outcome will determine much of the world’s future and the future of the people in it.

If you wish a more political example, consider Obama’s three years of trying to work with an opposition party that as a matter of principle refuses to cooperate. It does not work.

The Idiot Tracker spotted this in talking about what he calls the lukewarmers and what Eli calls the Pielkesphere, the wanna be "Honest Brokers", whose utmost desire is to control the conversation

 The real contrast here is not between “activists” and “skeptics” but between deniers and everybody else – between the science and the right-wing lunacy.

But lukewarmers are exploiting the shift in the Overton window brought about by voluble climate deniers to position their radical views as a sane middle ground.
So what is the lukewarmer's mission.  Oh the surface, very obvious, to establish themselves as the voice of the middle, but if you look carefully at their position, to be in the middle they have to help shift the Overton window so that the real middle, the Barts and the MTs are on one fringe and the Sky Dragons on the other.  As Richard Alley said to the US Congress
You have now had a discussion or a debate here between people who are giving you the blue one and people giving you the green one. This is certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side
and shifting the Overton window back towards reality is what Eli is trying to do. If you have a world only with the Sky Dragons, the Lucias and the Barts out there, make no mistake about it, in spite of the pretty words, the middle of the window is denial and the lukewarmers know that their first goal has to be to destroy any opposing shift of the argument back to reality, which explains the unrelenting attacks against Joe Romm, Mann, and Hansen.  A good example of this is RP Jr.'s current jihad against Justin Gillis.  Roger is sending a clear message. 

Bart and James and Eli and whoever else is the flavor of the day (Stoat appears to be having a run) have different POV about how to deal with the day to day denialist pettifoggery.  Of the climate scientists, only Mann, and Ben Santer have fully engaged, but that is because they have suffered the most under direct, deceitful and unrelenting attack.

While Eli is not a climate scientist, he has worked with many and in fields that are closely related. If Rabett Run has a message it is to point out that keeping your head down has not really been an option for climate scientists for a decade or more. They are coming for you in the Niemoeller sense, sooner or later.  The Sky Dragons may have given Judy Curry a taste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Uncertainty Monster Swallows the Sky Dragon

Puff, the magic sky dragon lived by O2C
And frolicked in the blog of Judith A. Curry,
Little Judy blogger loved that rascal Puff,
And published his posts and comments and other fanciful stuff. oh

A dragon lives forever but not so in the blogs
Fanciful nonsense and silly tales make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Judy wiped out the threads
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry picking lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. oh!

Eli had such a good time with Puff, and you know what, apparently, we say apparently,there are limits for everyone, so apparently Judy has wiped out the sky dragon threads.

or maybe she just put them up in the attic and you know whats up there.

Harvard Leads the Way

Eli, has been on a bit of an open access tear, with a particular venom reserved for Elsevier.  Via Occam's Typewriter a message from the Crimson Faculty Advisory Council
We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.
a dose of reality
The Library has never received anything close to full reimbursement for these expenditures from overhead collected by the University on grant and research funds.
a shot across Elsevier's bow
It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. Moreover, some providers bundle many journals as one subscription, with major, high-use journals bundled in with journals consulted far less frequently.
 with recommendations for action
and a call to action
Since the Library now must change its subscriptions and since faculty and graduate students are chief users, please consider the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L),

1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F).

2. Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).

3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

4. Contact professional organizations to raise these issues (F).
5. Encourage professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations (F).
6. Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other options (F).

7. Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journals (L).
8. Move journals to a sustainable pay per use system, (L).

9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).
 Faculty of the world, revolt, you have nothing to lose but your subscriptions and given arXiv we may not need that.  Discuss this with your local library committee and librarians

UPDATES:  The Bunnies got John Naughton in the Observer on how academic publishing doesn't add up

As one of the characters in George Bernard Shaw's play The Doctor's Dilemma observes: "All professions are conspiracies against the laity." To update the observation for a contemporary audience, simply replace the term "professions" with "publishers of academic journals" and you've got it in one. For, without the knowledge of the general public, a racket of monumental proportions has been milking the taxpayer for decades.
And Crooked Timber has something on the Harvard memo.

Russell, in the comments is going to get his dissertation placed respectfully behind piles of old Field and Stream magazines.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Woy is Wong

Roy Spencer has fallen in love and become infatuated with regressing population density on temperature anomaly trends in the continental US.  Nick Stokes has an interesting discussion but to Eli the real problem is the extremely naive way that Spencer deals with population density.

I computed daily average temperatures at each station which had records extending back at least to 1973, the year of a large increase in the number of global stations included in the ISH database. The daily average temperature was computed from the 4 standard synoptic times (00, 06, 12, 18 UTC) which are the most commonly reported times from stations around the world. 
At least 20 days of complete data were required for a monthly average temperature to be computed, and the 1973-2011 period of record had to be at least 80% complete for a station to be included in the analysis.
I then stratified the stations based upon the 2000 census population density at each station; the population dataset I used has a spatial resolution of 1 km.
I then accepted all 5×5 deg lat/lon grid boxes (the same ones that Phil Jones uses in constructing the CRUTem3 dataset) which had all of the following present: a CRUTem3 temperature, and at least 1 station from each of 3 population classes, with class boundaries at 0, 15, 500, and 30,000 persons per sq. km.
By requiring all three population classes to be present for grids to be used in the analysis, we get the best ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison between stations of different population densities. The downside is that there is less geographic coverage than that provided in the Jones dataset, since relatively few grids meet such a requirement. 
The problem, of course is, that the population has been moving around much more than the temperature, for 1970-2008 there have been huge changes

in population and therefore population density in the continental US.  If Woy is Wight, then the temperature anomalies should track the population anomalies.  To show how fair the Bunny is Eli will even use a figure from Fall, et al., Int J. Climatology (first ones to be found).  When temperature and population trends are compared, it appears that Woy is Wong

Bottom is NCEP-NCAR North American Regional Reanalysis top is US HCN adjusted.

Roger Pielke Jr. Will Be So Sad

The Sunday NY Times, shock, horror, features a comic strip by Brian McFadden, which, shock, horror, this week is Learning How to Combat Climate Change Denial.  Now Eli, of course, is for fair, but not unfair use, so rather than showing the entire strip, will show the last two frames

which, even by themselves, will make Roger very sad, and his friends Kloor and Revkin, even sadder.  Still, reading the lyrics provides more flavor:

Step 5:  Choose the weapon that best suits you - ice core samples, alternative energy, Ed Begley Jr., facts.

So young bunnies how do you Combat Climate Change Denial?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Give this guy a job in politics (UPDATE: Kobayashi Maru in action)

The only problem is that his trick doesn't work on a repetitive basis.  Someone that imaginative could come up with something else, though.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eli Is a Straightforward Bunny

Those with an eye for farce have been watching the Weasel play with his food (weasels do that you know) and show no sympathy whatsoever for Craig Loehle, who is very sad, and the Watts Up gang over at Watts Up.
CL is sad because Mann has been cwuel to him, or about him, in his book. Though this seems to have been more exciting for CL than Mann, since he doesn't make it in until p 187, and its just about CL's rubbish temperature reconstruction (see-also Tamino on the "vindication" version).
But the centerpiece of CL's recent post, which conclusively demonstrates how Mann is wrong and... well, you get the idea, is the one I've inlined here. Its from which isn't a good source. I wondered what the data sources were for the figure, and what "Current Warm Period" (CWP) might be, exactly. No-one seemed to be able to find an answer; a person calling themselves Richard S Courtney was pretty sure it meant 1998 (actually very un-pretty, but never mind [Update: I gave up too soon; even the mods got bored with him]), but that makes no sense - the ice cores don't go up to 1998, in general (I'm assuming there are some ice cores in there, though with no info as to the sources, its hard to say). Its likely that CWP means something like 20th-century average, but as far as I can tell it isn't possible to be sure; I think they are being deliberately vague. 
and it's true, go read the train wreck over at Tony's and read the comments at the Weasel's.  This from Stoat captures the gist of it
Over at my blog we’ve been looking a bit at some of the studies that the Idsos pic shows large MWPs from. We think we’ve found the 4.75 oC one ( and predictably enough, when you check it out it doesn’t add up.
First of all, even from the CO2 science link, you can see immeadiately that the peak warmth was only for one brief period – 5 years – which is hardly a “MWP”. But its more interesting to look at the actual paper itself ( If you read the abstract, you’ll find:
“At High Medieval Times, the amplitude in the reconstructed temperature variability is most likely overestimated”
Oddly, CO2science didn’t have space to mention that. For more details, you need to read section 5.2 and the discussion of figure 5, which contains text like:
“During High Medieval Times lasting from the 10th to 13th century, our reconstruction shows evidence for above-average temperatures, whereby the amplitude in the reconstructed temperature variability is most likely overestimated. However, temperatures were not high in general; rather distinct warmer episodes lasting a few decades are demonstrated…” and “Despite the overall relatively high uncertainty in our reconstruction and the certainly overestimated temperature variability particularly at High Medieval Times…”
Finally, although you can read a peak out of that record, there is no clear “current warm period” in their record, and 1998 is certainly not included. So anyone who thought that “current warm period” meant 1998, or that the CO2science figure comparison is MWP-vs-1998, will have to reconsider.
Courtney finally cuts and runs to catch a plane (kind of the Tom Fuller gambit, welcome back Bart), but Eli, Eli is a very straightforward Bunny, so he wrote the Idsos and asked

A number of people are interested in how you define the Current Warm Period
as shown discussed in

and got a reply he expects will be diced and sliced
For the Level 1 and 2 studies, the point of comparison that we use for the CWP is the period of highest proxy temperature value during which time the IPCC and other climate alarmists claim the planet experienced unprecedented global warmth, i.e., since the 1980s.  Hope this helps.

-Craig Idso
cause frankly see Stoat's comment.

Seeing the Science

Many of Eli's readers are fascinated by Nick Stokes' development of data visualization tools and are already making use of them (in spite of Blogger).   Nick's interactive JS Plotter shows how better tools allow bunnies to see better and further.  Today's data flood too easily gets interred into data morgues with only small bits cut out and published in the first autopsy. 

But before Nick (and still), there is Horace Mitchell who has created a unique resource at Goddard Space Flight Center, the Scientific Visualization Studio.  You may have seen some of their video on YouTube including the one below. 

Horace was perhaps the first to realize that the massive data stream from satellites would overwhelm the capabilities of people to fully make use of the resource and that humans are visual processors. NASA was smart enough to give him and the SVS team the needed.  The mission of the SVS is to find new ways to view information and use the information to further scientific understanding.  That many of their products are beautiful and educational is a bonus we share in but these are serious data management tools which have allowed researchers to advance knowledge in ways that simply could not have happened without them.  Oh yes, Horace also made the first fly in that Eli ever saw. Blew the Bunny away.

Have a poke about at the SVS site and on YouTube.  You will enjoy it

Obama reconsidering buffer zones for Syrian refugees

Turns out that a strict talking-to didn't fix things.


With the Syria deal in jeopardy and questions as to whether Syria will truly cease its military operations, particularly after Syrian troops fired across the border into Turkey, discussions within the Obama administration about creating a Syria-Turkey border "buffer zone" have intensified, State Department officials tell CNN. 
"It would be correct to say this idea is getting another look in the last week or so," one official said about the buffer zone.

Fox says Turkey isn't onboard, but who knows.  This should've been done some time ago, but better late than never.  Havens could allow the development of a Free Syria alternative to Assad, would put increasing pressure on the military to get rid of the leadership that's causing the loss of territorial integrity, and could allow Turkey and the West to filter out some of the jihadist elements that could make things worse.

Now that we've delayed and the opposition has lost most of the territory it controls, I'm less supportive of arming the opposition - it's less clear now whether that could save lives.  Arming some vetted groups in the safe havens though, instead of whatever crazies that Saudi Arabia wants to arm, could be a good idea.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Live blogging the new EPA coal plant rule - this'll be exciting

The rule discussed by Eli will require new coal plants in the US to emit no more CO2 than natural gas plants do.  Thought I'd take a closer look at it, so here it is.  Below are a few topline comments, then after the jump are specific callouts and leg-shivering quotes from the doc.

  • If you want to see our existing coal plants required to either install carbon capture and storage, do offsets that hopefully work, or get shut down, then you should hope that this proposed rule results in new coal/coke plants get constructed and use CCS.  Given the economics favoring natural gas over coal for new plants after the next few years finish coal plants that are already in the pipeline for construction, then the only way this will happen is through subsidies for CCS.
  • This is a regulated utility market we’re talking about, not a regulated free market.  Don't expect classic economic principles to work here.
  • This proposal is meant to help get carbon capture and storage going. The way it does that is that it requires CCS for new coal plants, and because CCS is required, utilities can add it and then pass on the costs/risks to customers. Absent the requirement, then the utility might not be allowed by regulators to pass on the costs. Consider this proposed rule to be a “permission slip” to do carbon sequestration.
  • Big implication: if CCS gets off the ground for new plants and proves to be not too expensive, then it may be required for old plants.  See for example, discussion of plant modifications on p. 42-44.
  • Treating new coal plants as having to meet natural gas emission standards, rather than establish special standards for coal, is important precedent for future attempts to regulate existing coal plants.
  • I think I may submit actual comments to the EPA, see discussion of pages 48 and 62.  Anyone want to join in?

Specific comments/excerpts after the jump.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Did Romney pay zero taxes in 2009? And 2008?

UPDATE September 2012:  Okay, he didn't pay zero taxes, but we still don't know if he paid any significant amount.

Romney's caught heat for a lack of transparency in his finances, especially compared to his father's presidential run.  He's now announced a delay in filing his final 2011 taxes, presumably looking for a time when people will be less resentful of a multi-millionaire paying lower tax rates than they do.

Back in the heat of the primary, though, Romney was forced to release his 2010 taxes and estimate 2011, but failed to do any more as the Democrats have demanded.  The Washington Post blogger guessed it was the exotic nature of his finances that made him hesitant to release them.  Let me try another guess.

Among the details that may spur fresh debate: The returns show that Romney was able to cut his taxable income by $4.8 million because of losses carried over from previous years. Under the tax code, taxpayers who lose money from their investments can deduct those losses against their capital gains. If a taxpayer ends up losing so much that the losses outweigh the gains in a given year, the rest of those losses can be carried to the next year and subtracted from income.
Capital losses are carried over from previous years - the years that Romney still refuses to release.  The carryover means he had no net capital gains in 2009, possibly in previous years as well.  The only taxes he paid in 2010 were capital gains - he had no earned income.

Unless he had earned income in 2009 that he didn't in 2010, which seems unlikely because he's been running for president since 2006, then the information he has given suggests he paid no taxes in 2009, or even earlier if he took large capital losses in 2007 or 2008 that carried over for subsequent years.

I'm no tax expert so maybe I'm missing something, but this looks like dynamite to me.

UPDATE:  looks like others have had the same thought.  More links here.

The Judge Doesn't Want to Be Reversed

Tom Jackman writing for the Washington Post reports on yesterday's hearing on the FOIA demand from Chris Horner to UVa for Mike Mann's Emails.  As Jackman points out the Judge is interested in building a case that the inevitable appeals court can use and has asked for briefings on a number of issues:

Sheridan acknowledged that however he rules, the case is headed to the Virginia Supreme Court to resolve several key FOIA issues the case raises:
• Are a university professor’s e-mails subject to a FOIArequest, and can a university withhold them?

• If a FOIA request is denied or material is withheld as “exempt” from the law, can the party appealing that exemption to the courts use the pre-trial discovery process as it is used in other civil cases?

• If the documents sought in a FOIA request are given to another person, does that mean the exemption is waived and the documents must be given to all?

So the judge said he wants to compile a fully briefed, fully argued case that doesn’t go down a side alley before it ends in Prince William Circuit Court, and moves on to Richmond.
Some new charcoal was tossed on the fire 
• Though Mann did not join the suit until November, U.Va. provided the 12,000 withheld e-mails to his lawyer, Peter Fontaine, last September. Fontaine said he needed the e-mails to prepare his argument, and to prepare the sample e-mails to submit to the judge. David Schnare, ATI’s lawyer, said Mann was not entitled to the e-mails as an ex-employee, a non-party to the suit and a non-resident of Virginia. Once they were released to someone like Mann, the FOIA exemption was waived and the e-mails should be released, Schnare argued.

• University lawyer Madelyn Wessel argued that Mann and U.Va. were on the same side in the suit, and that U.Va. reached out to him to suggest he assist in the preservation of his e-mails. Schnare responded that the University made no such gesture when Greenpeace sought the e-mails of two other U.Va. professors who were skeptical of climate change claims.

• Schnare also noted that when USA Today last year requested the correspondence of George Mason University professor Edward Wegman, who has attacked climate change science, GMU promptly provided 3,000 pages to the newspaper free of charge. Mann then used some of Wegman’s correspondence in his new book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.” Schnare waved a copy of the book, with red tabs noting the references to the released information, at Judge Sheridan.

• Schnare also pushed for release of the e-mails in pretrial discovery, along with depositions and other standard motions practice in a Virginia civil case. University lawyer Richard Kast attacked that notion as an end run around the FOIA law. “If this made sense,” Kast said, “all a person would have to do is file a petition [appealing a FOIA denial], and then file a production [of documents] request.”
You can get an idea of some of this from an interchange between the lawyers in the Roanoke Times (yes this case is being fought in the newspapers and the courts).    Bottom line
Kathi Wescott for the AAUP: Unpublished scholarly communications should not be made available through public records requests because these communications go to the very heart of the academic discovery process. A process so vital to the development of new, unique and sometimes controversial scholarship and teaching that it is not only protected by Academic Freedom but also by Virginia’s own public records law. Virginia’s law exempts data and records related to scholarly work conducted at public colleges and universities “where such data, records or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented.”
 It appears as though ATI seeks to intrude into those communications that ultimately were never published at the conclusion of Professor Mann’s research. These types of “behind the scenes” communications allow faculty members to refine their work and ultimately publish that information which has been peer reviewed and found to be sound. Professor Mann’s climate research has been independently reviewed more than a half dozen times with every panel concluding that his work is and was sound. The distorted picture painted by ATI and other interested parties has not panned out. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, ATI continues to pursue legitimately protected communications that are essential to the development of new research whose conclusions benefit all of society. It is hard to view these efforts as anything but an attempt to chill research with which ATI and others disagree.

Wanna Guess?

Eric May continues perfecting his  inspector Clouseau act with the release of Dr. Jeffrey Gleason's last interrogation.  In an effort to pound sand even harder, May is now looking into the Bowhead Whale Artic Survey Project database for more dead polar bears, obviously to show that Gleason and Monnett's paper was criminal.
Per an email from Special Agent Eric May, which PEER obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the IG is looking into the 30-year database of BWASP observations with special focus on the 2007 transition of the survey from Interior to the Marine Mammal Lab.  In addition, the IG wants “to determine if dead polar bears were documented in the BWASP database between 1987- 2003” in an apparent attempt to show that sightings of four drowned polar bears following a storm in 2004 was not remarkable. 
May found two dead bears noted in the margins, in wait for it, September 2004, before the big storm, after which Gleason and Monnett noted the extra dead bears, so now he is bugging the NOAA National Marine Mammal Lab to which the database was transferred last decade.  PEER has obtained some Emails in which the folks at NMML ask to be invited out, they want no part of this nonsense
The Marine Mammal Lab originally demurred on the IG request for further interviews, pointing out that all of the data had been retrieved, copied and sent back to Interior in 2011.  The IG apparently is still seeking assistance on how to unravel decades of BWASP data.  PEER has filed a formal complaint that any such review should be done by knowledgeable scientists rather than untrained criminal investigators.
Since both Monnett and Gleason have testified many times that they made a good faith effort to locate any such reports in the database, and produced records of their search, it is difficult to see how May and his superiors justify  this continuing harassment.  It is, to put it bluntly, not their job or expertise to publish data on polar bear mortality, and it is already painfully obvious that whoever sent Eric May after them had a political vendetta in mind, perhaps the DOI IG might look into that.

There is something of general interest towards the end tho.  May describes an Email forwarded by Monnett to Gleason which originated from the World Wildlife Fund UK
MAY:  And it's from Julia Woolford (phonetic) from that organization, and she forwarded this -- or she wrote this to Dr. Ian Stirling, and then forwarded it to Dr. Monnett who ultimately forwarded it to you.  And the start of the email says, "Dear Ian and (inaudible).  Once again, sorry to bother you for more information at short notice.  The interest from WWFUK in fund-raising for Arctic conservation has  increased and we have been inundated with copy which needs clearance  for possible fund-raising activities.

"One treatment that they seem keen on is the idea of more polar bears drowning as a result of climate change and melting ice.  They sent me the attached note.  I'd seen this press coverage, but didn't pay it too much attention as I assumed that it was probably not scientifically verifiable. 
"However, it looks like we need a view on this so we could avoid any potentially ill-advised fund-raising attempts by colleagues.  The  other treatment they are considering revolves more simply around polar  bears disappearing before the end of the century as a result of disappearing sea ice.
"What they want to know is what is likely to happen to the bears.
Will they simply become extinct, will they interbreed with brown bears?  What might happen?  Will be a regional extinction," -- et cetera.
This reflects well on the WWF, while they consider the situation serious, they are also considering it seriously, not wanting to make claims that go beyond the scientific evidence
So, Dr. Ian wrote to Dr. Monnett, "Hi, Chuck.  Nice to see you in (inaudible) the other day briefly.  The enclosed is self-explanatory.   It looks pretty sensational.  List it to me, but since you are the   only one with real information on this, would you mind giving a brief assessment to Woolford."

And then Dr. Monnett forwarded to you and Dr. Monnett says, "Give me a break."  Do you recall receiving this email, by chance? 
Dr. Gleason, in his answer provides the context for that reply and the reason why May's aggression is so damaging
GLEASON:. .in the first interview I had mentioned that about the time the first poster came out, it became -- it got to the point where we could not, as scientists, contact scientists or biologists in the sister agencies.

So, it got sort of weird.  We were told, "You will not talk about polar bears, sea ice, climate change or any of those issues to anybody."  And that included other scientists and other agencies.  At the same time, obviously we had requests for information, those sorts of requests, you know.

But it was sort of a weird time to be a biologist/scientist in the agency at the time, and it was one of the reasons, probably the primary reason that I left the agency up there because of this sort of, "You will not" -- which was a little disconcerting, given what was going on.

But, yes -- so, I -- I probably received multiple forwards that Chuck would get regarding the requests, and I -- obviously I wouldn't have responded to the request outside of Chuck.  I mean, Dr. Monnett.

So, -- and "Give me a break," pretty much, I think, solidifies his opinion of that request as well.
 There is no doubt that this three year clown show has had a hugely negative effect of scientists in the Department of the Interior and the US Government in general.  There is both comedy and tragedy in the testimony, frankly, if Eli were Gleason's adviser the Bunny would advise him to give monosyllabic answers.

So who is to blame for this?  In a news report from NPR on Polar Bear IG Abuse, Eli is reminded
The scientific integrity allegations regarding the journal article stem from a complaint made by a Department of the Interior employee in March of 2010, according to an August 2011 letter from the Office of Inspector General to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who had requested information on the probe.
Rabett Run is taking bets that this was RP Sr.'s pal, Indur Golklany.  Perhaps his Email needs be trolled through?

Thoughts on blocking evolution denial comments?

I've been away spreading CO2 emissions, and comments to my last post went down the rabbit hole dealing with creationist nonsense.

This blog tackles climate denialism, so I'm not too bothered with climate denialist comments that come up and get shot down in the comments, (altho I'd prefer the silly arguments and responding to them take up less bandwidth than is the case).  We haven't the same role on fighting the good fight for the science of biology.

I'm actually interested in the creation wars but as an observer, rather than trying to wade in against arguments that are even worse than the ones made up for climate denial.

Soooo, I'm pondering a policy to delete evolution denial.  Thoughts?  

Note that follow-up commenters might post a response before I woke up from being distracted, reference a comment that's since been deleted, and look a bit strange.

For now, no policy unless I say something in a particular blog post.  And this is just Brian talking - Eli and John manage their own threads.

UPDATE:  no outpouring of demands to block the evolution denial comments, so I'm going to let them stay.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Who Made This?

In the comments, Toby points to an interesting YouTube Series on climate change that obviously was excerpted from a British television program.  Pointers please.

UPDATE:  Paul S. provides the link to a BBC3 series presented by Ian Stewart.  The program notes are interesting.
What have you learnt from this series about climate change?

 Until a few years ago, I was a bit of a climate sceptic. Geologists are only too aware that the climate is always changing and that our planet has experienced very different conditions in the past – warmer, wetter, drier, and colder; far more carbon dioxide in the air; higher sea levels and the rest.

We geologists are used to these changes happening over non-human timescales – hundreds of thousands to millions of years – so it took me a while to latch on to the notion that it was the rate of change that was important. I was really gob-smacked when I saw the ice cores from Greenland and was able to put my finger on the point in the core when the planet switched out of an ice age and into a warm period over the course of a single season.   At most, this fundamental change may occur over one to three years, but it's certainly not five or 10 and it's definitely not the centuries to hundreds that I learned about when I did my geology degree 20 years ago.

What is truly scary about climate change is not any of the specific scenarios of rising seas or melting ice, but the sense that our planet's climate exists on a knife-edge balance and we really don't understand what pushes us over the edge, which makes our great chemistry experiment with the world's oceans and atmosphere all the more short-sighted.

Wegman's Next Move?

Via Drug Monkey comes news that one Mark W. Miller, after falling from the good graces of the NIH Office of Research Integrity as noted by Retraction Watch (John Mashey checks there every day to see if someone has left him another pony), has hired Reputation Changer to salt the web with nice things about his tattered scientific reputation. specializes in helping people make their mistakes vanish from the eyes of potential clients and employers. Embarrassing arrests and unseemly articles can be pushed off of the front page of Google searches, where they are unlikely to be viewed by the majority of Google users. Because people tend to only look at the first page of results,
 As DM points out
How do they do it? By building a fawning self-web-presence that says crapola like:
Michael W. Miller Presents Astounding Findings or perhaps Michael W. Miller Publishes Scientific Gold. This latter conveniently omits to mention the two retracted papers that were, of course, not "Gold" but more like "made up crap".
As far as I can tell, every link in the site points to somewhere else on the site. I'm sure this is hot stuff in repairing your Google ranks.
 Now on the one hand, Ed Wegman has Wiley on his side, but on the other hand Ed Wegman has Deep Climate and John on the other side

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Welcome News

Behind the curve as usual, but the Guardian last week brought news that the Welcome Trust (in US terms think Howard Hughes, or the Gates Foundation, or insert the local megabucks private foundation for medical research here) was tired of subsidizing Elsevier and Nature

Sir Mark Walport, the director of Wellcome Trust, said that his organisation is in the final stages of launching a high calibre scientific journal called eLife that would compete directly with top-tier publications such as Nature and Science, seen by scientists as the premier locations for publishing. Unlike traditional journals, however, which cost British universities hundreds of millions of pounds a year to access, articles in eLife will be free to view on the web as soon as they are published.

He also said that the Wellcome Trust, which spends more than £600m on scientific research a year, would soon adopt a more robust approach with the scientists it funds, to ensure that results are freely available to the public within six months of first publication.
Much premature celebration in the comments.

A VERY long time ago a very old professor of Eli's told him that after the war (WWII you whippersnappers) when the US was setting up science funding on a much larger  scale, there was a discussion of how to fund scientific publishing.  The commercial publishers objected to direct funding of learned societies, so the page charge mechanism was set up.  There is no reason for it to continue, nor is there reason for funding agencies not to insist on open publication.  Harold Varmus was right and increasingly this is a policy that more funding agencies are adopting.

Eli will simply append the new policy from the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.  Perhaps this will bring James back to Britain??
Issue date:  29 September 2011
Category:  Briefing 

EPSRC has introduced a new policy on access to research outputs. The policy has been mandated by the EPSRC Council and recognises the need for increased availability and accessibility of publicly-funded research findings, as demonstrated by the recently announced Working Group established by Science Minister David Willetts.

Open access to research publications is now policy in an increasing number of major funding agencies such as the other UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, the US National Science Foundation and National Institutes for Health.

EPSRC’s policy, which is in line with RCUK’s position, covers access to any form of scholarly work arising from EPSRC funding and accepted for publication in an academic journal.

The policy requires that all published EPSRC-funded research articles submitted for publication from 1 September 2011 must be made available on an Open Access basis.

Importantly, the policy leaves researchers free to publish in the journal most suited to the subject of their research. It is expected that publications will be made Open Access through one of two main routes:

Gold Open Access (pay-to-publish) – peer-reviewed papers published in fully Open Access journals which do not charge subscription fees, or in ‘hybrid’ subscription journals which enable free access to ‘pre-paid’ articles. Subject to certain criteria the publishing fees may be met from direct or indirect costs on EPSRC Research Grants.

Green Open Access – research is published in traditional subscription journals and authors self-archive their papers (as accepted for publication) in a digital online repository.

Publications will preferably be openly accessible from the date of publication. However, the current prevalence of embargo periods means this may not be a realistic option in some areas of engineering and physical sciences research. EPSRC therefore encourages authors to publish within the shortest embargo period attainable commensurate with ensuring their work achieves maximum impact.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Butcher's Bill

The latest, of course, is the JSC Black Knights, who don't really believe that NASA has any business studying climate stuff.  For the full rundown, Think Progress relaying Dana from Skeptical Science ain't bad, and the money quote is from NASA Science Administrator Waleed Adbalati

“NASA sponsors research into many areas of cutting-edge scientific inquiry, including the relationship between carbon dioxide and climate. As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue ‘claims’ about research findings. We support open scientific inquiry and discussion.
“Our Earth science programs provide many unique space-based observations and research capabilities to the scientific community to inform investigations into climate change, and many NASA scientists are actively involved in these investigations, bringing their expertise to bear on the interpretation of this information. We encourage our scientists to subject these results and interpretations to scrutiny by the scientific community through the peer-review process. After these studies have met the appropriate standards of scientific peer-review, we strongly encourage scientists to communicate these results to the public.
“If the authors of this letter disagree with specific scientific conclusions made public by NASA scientists, we encourage them to join the debate in the scientific literature or public forums rather than restrict any discourse.”
But Eli, as John Fleck pointed out a while ago is into the meta of the thing, and to figure out why this, why now, the wayback machine takes us to a February post by one of the Bunny's old USENET playmates, Steinn Sigurdsson,
There are several signs o'doom for NASA bubbling up out there
So it goes. . . .
Turns out the White House has given NASA the heads-up and they had to tell ESA some, and ESA has no compunction about talking.
Beeb story on NASA ESA break on Mars
WaPo on NASA cuts
Ed Weiler tells all about why he left NASA . . .

This is partly JWST needing to find pocket change, and partly, presumably, the general onset of austerity and all 'round cuts.

This is going to hurt.
 and his comment about the review of the planetary exploration program
The problem is that something almost certainly has to give, and the decision is now being kicked upstairs with obscure guidance.
This could end badly.
So now, Eli gets to point out all of NASA is divided into three parts, each of which has a varying amount of Gaul, the manned space flight program, the science program and aeronautics.  The various centers, Johnson, Goddard, Ames, Dryden, Glen, JPL, Kennedy, Langely, Marshall,  Stennis, tend to specialize in one thing or the other but usually have some feet in all three camps (good trick, :).  Johnson, of course is mostly about manned space flight, Goddard about science especially Earth stuff, and JPL has the lead in planetary science.  Marshall is about building rockets and rocket motors, Stennis about testing them and Kennedy about launching them.  Glen is the center for aeronautics propulsion and Ames, Dryden (Ames stepbrother) and Langely, although diverse, could be thought of as aeronautic legacies from NACA.

Sometime ago, Eli was of the opinion that the Bushies were going to hack up NASA.  In one scenario aeronautics would go to the FAA leaving a rump Confederate Manned Space Exploration Agency centered around Johnson, Kennedy, Marshall and Stennis. Kennedy would be renamed Strom Thurmond Space Center.  GISS would be gifted (in the German sense) to Columbia, JPL, well Cal Tech owns it anyhow and Goddard and Langely would have to fend for themselves.

Beyond this, the NASA external grant program is absolutely key in many areas of science, including climate, air pollution, planetary sciences, astronomy and more.

Administrations have always handled inconvenient programs at NASA by giving the agency something additional to do within the same budget, thus the manned push to Mars, which, intelligently, has been taken off the stove for all practical purposes.

But as Steinn has pointed out, the cupboard is bare and the butcher's bill has to be paid.  The Johnson Black Knights have thrown down the gauntlet across agency organizational lines, and, at least in public, Adbalati has responded calmly and without bloodshed, but this indeed may not be what is going on at HQ.  The problem, of course, is that the manned space flight program has always been the NASA standard bearer, abetted by the rocket jocks who would, in not much of a pinch, have no problem flying bricks rather than payload or people.

With the wind down of the Shuttle, and the obvious uselessness of the ISS this may have shifted under their feet.  Bunnies will see, but the other constituencies are not standing still either.  Eli has an Email from the AGU Planetary Sciences Section and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Science calling for serious lobbying of Congress to reverse "devastating budget cuts".

Which brings Rabett Run to a final and interesting point.  What is the AGU Atmospheric Sciences Section going to do?  What makes this popcorn ready is that the Section President Elect is Peter Webster.  Can Webster carry water for Atmospheric Sciences (which does include climate) and at the same time advocate the post modern approach of his colleague, chair and business partner, Judith Curry.  Congress is not fond of mixed messages.  An interesting straddle and time is short.

Pie Pushers

Eli has to admit it, the Pielkesphere and the Breakdown Boys have nothing on the MIT Press office as Pie PushersTM ER.  There is a lot of Pie over the Cambridge sky.  In the comments, Paul K2, brings word of the latest, that has indeed metastasized across the net.  The science itself is interesting, a new, more effective, catalyst for reacting CO2 formed by gold coating copper nanoparticles of a particular size and composition, but, of course, those remain to be optimized.  More research is needed.  The claims are ridiculous

Co-author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT says the findings point to a potentially energy-efficient means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from powerplants.

“You normally have to put a lot of energy into converting carbon dioxide into something useful,” says Hamad-Schifferli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and biological engineering. “We demonstrated hybrid copper-gold nanoparticles are much more stable, and have the potential to lower the energy you need for the reaction.”
and the hopes pie in the sky high
Hamad-Schifferli acknowledges that coating industrial-scale electrodes partly with gold can get expensive. However, she says, the energy savings and the reuse potential for such electrodes may balance the initial costs.

“It’s a tradeoff,” Hamad-Schifferli says. “Gold is obviously more expensive than copper. But if it helps you get a product that’s more attractive like methane instead of carbon dioxide, and at a lower energy consumption, then it may be worth it. If you could reuse it over and over again, and the durability is higher because of the gold, that’s a check in the plus column.”
Let us temper our enthusiasm here.  It's these kinds of press releases that give public relations offices bad reps and make the S&E faculty look foolish

Did anybody ever do the thermochemistry??  If all you do is recycle methane the reaction will be thermoneutral or worse depending on the energy cost for your hydrogen (from water??  Graetzel and friends have been chasing catalysts for splitting water for decades with scientific but not economic success). 

So in a rough sketch, what is being proposed is

CO2 + 2H2 + catalysts---> CH4 + O2 + catalyst  Heat needed = 318.7 kJ/mole

Even without worrying about the energy barriers involved in breaking the CO double bonds (the catalyst lowers that, that is what catalysts do), you need a considerable amount of energy and then you burn the methane

 CH4 + 2O2 ---> CO2 + 2H2O        Heat released = -890.3 kJ/mole (the - shows it is released)

Ah, you get the energy back plus some, but you have to get the hydrogen from somewhere.  From water

2H2O + other catalyst ---> 2H2 + O2    Heat needed = 571.6 kJ/mole

No problem here.  It's all free energy even though it adds up to zero net heat.  If you tell Eli you are going to get the hydrogen from biofuels, burn the biofuels, but even there, that only accounts for one cycle, which given the cost of the catalyst makes no sense.  If you are going to get it from petroleum or natural gas, to make this a cyclical process you are going to have to get your hydrogen back from the water you made.  Welcome back to zugzwang.

The only thing that CO2 cracking makes sense for is production of higher value hydrocarbons which stay buried (e.g. plastic/solvents) and fuel for motor vehicles and those have huge economic barriers as well as issues of volume.

This is press release abuse at it's worst.

Premature is a very kind description and yes, the Science Churnalists all bit.  Spread the word.

Eli will have some words later in the day for the JSC Black Knights defending their budget.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ice, Ice, Everywhere and Ne'er A Drop Did Melt

Well, actually it did, and this is another example of the usefulness of willful stupidity.  Doug Cotton, yes bunnies, the peer reviewed Doug Cotton, making silly over at Roy's, and given how silly Roy has become, that is indeed very silly indeed.

Roy is trying to ignore him, but to slightly paraphrase a comment from the NY Times blogs The Dougs constitute our major problem: how do we improve our understanding of the world, maintain constructive relationships with the rest of the world, and move forward into a better future when a substantial segment of our population (who vote!) are guided by absurd beliefs. The Roys  are not evil, simply shortsighted. They don't understand that this dog will hunt only until it gets hungry; then it will turn around in a rage and bite us all.

 Eli, of course, dipped an ear in, but that lead to some thinking.  Let Doug state his ansatz (which, btw, you can find many other places on the web, not just from Doug

So, can we find an example of EM radiation not being converted to thermal energy when we might expect it to be?

A microwave oven can warm items with water molecules in them, including liquid water. This does not violate the SLoT simply because energy is added using electricity. But it can only melt ice by conduction from adjacent water molecules that it has already warmed, not by direct action on the ice.
However, the process is nothing remotely like the normal natural absorption of sunlight which also warms water and melts ice.

Not all photons striking water or ice molecules automatically convert EM energy to thermal energy as happens with solar radiation. If they did (as some people imply they do because they assume there is two-way heat flow which results in an apparent net one way flow) then why does far less energy flow into ice in a microwave oven than into water?
There is a stronger version of this
So what happens, Roy, to the fairly high intensity, but low frequency microwave radiation which strikes the ice cubes in a microwave oven but does not melt them?
If not much is reflected off water, why would much be reflected off ice? We know ice melts in front of an electric radiator. So the difference is in the frequency distribution as Claes and I have been saying.
It is neither reflected much nor absorbed at all. Yet, being a solid, not much would be transmitted, especially when we know the same microwaves had an effect on water.
So it must be scattered in the way I describe in my paper, and the absorptivity of ice for such low frequency radiation must be zero, because the ice does not melt. The reasons are in my paper, and this is why IPCC models are wrong in assuming absorptivity > 0 for backradiation.
WHich is more intense? Radiation in a microwave oven or backradiation from above the poles? Both types of radiation have lower frequencies than the radiation emitted by the ice itself.
If high intensity LW radiation in a microwave oven cannot melt ice, what chance does low intensity LW backradiation have of melting (or warming) all the ice and snow-covered areas of the globe? How then can backradiation affect sea levels?

The simple answer, of course, is that the absorption coefficient of solids varies with wavelength.  The figure on the right, from RefractiveIndex. Info (a great site for looking up refractive indicies of materials, highly recommended) shows the extinction coefficient of hexagonal ice.  The absorbance is quite high throughout the thermal IR (say from about 6 to 100 microns.  At the peak of the CO2 bending vibration, about 14 microns the extinction coefficient is 0.28 cm-1 which is equivalent to an absorption coefficient of 2500 cm-1That's really high. An absorption coefficient of 1 cm-1 means that 90% of the light would be absorbed in 1 cm, so the IR from backradiation is pretty much absorbed on the surface of the ice and someone should to tell Doug (right, good luck).

But yeah, microwave ovens don't heat ice very well, most of what you see is the absorption of the thin water layer on the top (getting rid of which 100% is a huge bear).   The question is why, and the answer can be found in a really impressive paper by Warren and Brandt published in JGR 113 D 14220 (2008) which has indicies of refraction, real and imaginary parts, for ice across the ENTIRE spectrum, and yes, water ice has a minimum in the absorption right where most kitchen microwaves work, 122 mm. 


Well, it's all about networking ain't it? The Guardian today has an article about a proposed electrical
power interconnect between Iceland and the UK, which sounds kind of science fiction, but is part of a trend, with already existing connectors between France and the UK and the Netherlands and the UK as well as proposed ones linking Ireland, the UK and Norway.  What is not shown are underwater interconnects between the various skandinavian countries, esp. including Denmark

As an aside, the proposed link to Iceland does not go through Scotland, perhaps because their not exactly sure that Scotland will be a part of the UK after 2014?  But then again, maybe this is just an artist's impression.

The point of these interconnects is to balance load between a variety of green and greenish generation methods.  The French link, of course, can network in the nuclear plants in France, the Norway links take advantage of pumped water storage and other hydro capabilities.  Spain, in addition to rain has a lot of wind on the plain which it already covers a significant fraction of its electrical needs from.  Ireland has potential excess wind generating capacity and there are plans for new tidal electric generation in France.  Although not shown here, Sahara solar could easily be linked to Europe by the same technology.  A hidden implication is that as long as a number of countries continue to develop nuclear political decisions to forego may not have much of an effect on the continental scale, with the developers selling power to the others.  If this is the case we may see many such links between Japan and Asia.

Eli wants to stress the non-breakthrough nature of these initiatives.  This is not pie in the sky carbon capture so favored by Ethon's food groups.  The Pie PushersTM ER are, like those who favor birth control by thinking pure thoughts, fabulists.  These are significant, commercial projects for which financing is available, and construction underway, quietly, but to good effect.  The technology was developed over the past few decades and is currently available.

The net is to ameliorate the intermittent element of wind, solar and tidal power.  Repeating Rabett (Ms. Bunny has problems with that) wants to point out again that in a Science Policy Forum article entitled "A Road Map to US Decarbonization", (available in part in the Energy Bulletin) Reuel Shinnar and Francesco Citro point out that while nuclear is well suited to support baseload electricity generation, solar is ideal for handling peak demand, being most available, when most needed, during the hot days.

Same goes for wind and tides, it's always blowing somewhere.  In theory if you can move those electrons about, the wind can power the electrical fans where the sun is too hot, which.... oh well, let's not go there, somebunny will start muttering about the Second Law.